(CBS) — A scare at Chicago Executive Airport in suburban Wheeling: A drone is found on the airfield, and another is spotted flying above in recent months.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reports, state legislation would hold drone pilots more responsible for flying too close to airports.
Signs at the Wheeling airport warn drone pilots to stay clear at least five miles. But back in November, a drone was found grounded in the middle of the airfield, and another drone was reported flying over the suburban airport by a neighbor.
This prompted the airport to recently send about 8,000 letters to nearby residents informing them of what they can and can’t do with a drone near the airport.
While the airport authority is hoping education will keep drones away from the airport, others are going a step further.
“We are very serious about this,” says David Bird, the DuPage Airport Authority’s executive director.
He is pushing legislation that would increase the fines airport authorities can impose on anyone flying too close to an airport from $200 to $1,000.
“We think a $1,000 fine will be enough of an incentive that people will pay attention to all of the appropriate regulations,” Bird says.
Illinois state Sent. Tom Cullerton also is backing the legislation after the FAA reported more than 1,200 drone sightings last year near airports across the U.S.
“This is going to be a damaging effect if these drones start getting in the flight patterns and start having real issues of the planes crashing into them,” he says.
It’s important to note that many of the newer drones have software in them that won’t let pilots fly within the five mile no fly zone.
The bill is making its way through the Illinois House.