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The Latest News From the IAA

Aviation Regulator successfully prosecutes drone operation

30 May 2022

First of its kind prosecution in Ireland for illegal use of drone with potential for public safety risk

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) have successfully brought a prosecution with respect to a drone safety occurrence at a public demonstration outside the former Israeli embassy on Pembroke road in May 2021. The incident was first addressed at the scene by An Garda Síochána, who detained the drone and advised the IAA of the infringements. 

The defendant pleaded guilty and was awarded the Probation Act with an order to contribute to the Regulator’s legal costs and to make a charitable donation. 

Despite his significant experience as a freelance filmmaker, this drone operator did not appreciate the safety risks posed to the crowd gathered underneath. Flying over an assembly of people is considered a particularly high-risk activity, as those in a crowd cannot safely move away if the drone malfunctions.

Judge Anthony Halpin emphasised the importance of being correctly licensed by the IAA when operating drones. 

The Aviation Regulator. Diarmuid Ó Conghaile spoke of the need to ensure that public safety is maintained through the correct use of drones: 

“As Ireland’s Aviation Regulator, the safety of the public is our priority. The onus is on those who operate drones to do so safely and within the scope of the law, which in this case is EU-wide and in force since the beginning of last year. Luckily no-one was injured in this instance and the operator has admitted he was at fault. 

The use of drones is growing all the time, and whilst we can educate people on the safety aspects of their use, drone pilots must understand that these operations come with risk. Had this pilot undertaken the necessary training, this incident is unlikely to have taken place. Cooperation between the Gardai and the IAA is invaluable in ensuring the safety of the public when it comes to aviation, as was seen in this case.” 

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Illegal drone operation
Scene taken from illegal drone operation in May 2021 in Dublin