Drone Strikes West Hollywood Power Lines, 647 People Lose Power

Drone Strikes West Hollywood Power Lines, 647 People Lose Power

We’ve long passed the beginning of the end and are now certainly in middle-of-the-end territory with respect to the freedom to fly drones. The latest high-profile drone incident further ensures that drone piloting will remain a privilege and not a right, though rightly so, as some people apparently can’t exercise enough common sense to stay away from populated areas (i.e. Los Angeles) and critical city infrastructure (i.e. power lines).

Yesterday, almost 650 people were without power, according to SoCal Edison, after a drone struck power lines off of Sunset Blvd. near the popular Viper Room night club, whose Instagram account made note of the incident out front.

The FAA already requires any drone pilot operating commercially to maintain a current pilot’s license and proper registration and approval from the administration. New regulations are set to be decided upon and announced by November 20th, although there's a good chance more complete rules and regulations won't come until as late as 2017. Once those come out, in a perfect world, we could count on having to go through multiple training sessions and perhaps a written test to gain permission to fly drones commercially. That all makes sense and is much better/easier than the idea of every drone pilot having to get a pilot's license, which is quite expensive and time-consuming. The question remains, however: what will happen with regulations with regards to recreational drone piloting?

The pilot of this particular drone, his or her reasons for flying at this location, and the subsequent consequences he or she will face are all still unknown at this point.

[via ABC7]

Log in or register to post comments

20 Comments

What's funny is that people hit telephone poles with their cars regularly and people lose power, but nobody says we should ban the cars because of it.

Adam Ottke's picture

That's a good point. I think the fear here has more to do with the idea that it's totally avoidable while piloting a drone. Your mind should be 100% focused on controlling that thing..and you shouldn't be flying it around objects like telephone lines to begin with. In a car, on the other hand, sure, you should be 100% focused while driving. But people have accidents -- sometimes directly because of other people, too -- that they simply can't help... For the most part, people follow the rules when driving, though. And there just aren't any good, solid rules for drone piloting... Also, I supposed people see driving as a necessary part of our lives while drone piloting seems like pure recreation or at least far from necessary to most.

Charles Yeager's picture

As for the lack of drone regulation, blame the government. Which is 100% reactive to everything and never proactive. Canada, Europe, Australia, all have UAV laws set in place and commercial licenses available. There is no excuse in America for not having them (except that the USA can't decide yet how much they want to tax them yet...)

It also seems a bit contradictory that you state drone flight is pure recreation, which yes it is for most, but in this instance it was for a reality show, so I'd assume it was a paid service. Even so, clearly a bad choice to fly where they did. But as stated, cars, birds, etc. mess up power lines everyday. Drones are such a click-bait news story nowadays. Clicks pay the bills though..

Michael Kormos's picture

Oh that's a great point. Maybe it's because cars are widespread modes of transportation. Drones are toys.

"Toys"

Charles Yeager's picture

Exactly the wrong mindset to have. But I can see you are wise beyond your years.

Michael Kormos's picture

Charles, recently, on two separate occasions in Central Park while taking family portraits, I've had two kids buzzing around - mere feet overhead - with these toys. Yes, mounting a GoPro on it doesn't nullify that term. It's a toy. Professionals that use drones are well trained, obtain proper permits, and conduct themselves like movie production crews - with professionalism, courtesy, and certainly a BIG eye on safety.
This drone that shorted the powerlines? A toy.
If I had a slingshot with me, I'd take it down.

Rob Mynard's picture

Lets not forget that before you get to drive that car into a pole, you need to go through training and have yourself and your car registered.

Tony Carter's picture

BOOM! ;)

michael andrew's picture

No where in the world do you need to be licensed and registered to be an idiot and drive a car into a telephone pole.

Registration and licensing are great ways to hold people responsible for their actions with fines and such. If licensing and registration prevented accidents we wouldn't need "insurance".

What this incident showed is that we obviously need to hold people responsible for their actions, pretty understood.

As things progress UAV operators will likely be required all of those things to fly "legal" in which large part will have been action to answer to the behavior of the small minority of people who didn't follow the rules anyway.

It will be a long time before the police can spot a UAV and make the series of decisions necessary to find the operator when rule breaking is determined.

I fly safe and in open areas, but in all reality I don't care one way or another if the hammer comes down on UAVs. Safety should always trump our "right" to fly. I just hope some regulation comes out that trends in the favor of safety. Currently I feel the trend is aimed at making it hard to get "legal" which does nothing to people who don't care about that.

Motorists are required to have an operator's license, register the vehicle they are operating, and carry liability insurance to operate a vehicle on public roadways. That's but a small example of the minor differences between them and drone operators.

Anonymous's picture

The FFA rule is only a rule, not law. No law is on the books stops one from using a drone. It is not a "requirement" at this time. The difference is charging money to a client or offering your service to use your drone is where it gets gummy. FFA has no legal authority to tell me if I charge or not charge. This is my personal perpective

Zach Sutton's picture

For those who know me....you know I live in West Hollywood, and won a DJI Inspire1 at PPE a few days ago. I'm just checking in to let you know, it wasn't me. :-)

Adam Ottke's picture

Still jealous about that... I'd kill for that... You hear that? Kill... Watch your back, Sutton :-)

Spy Black's picture

I think drones need to be registered, and their owners need to be licensed AND need training to use them, in order to use these things, just like regular pilots and aircraft. I know some of you here may not agree with this, but it's getting out of control. Actually I think there should private and commercial licenses and ratings as there are for regular aircraft and automotive transportation. There also needs to be airspace restrictions placed on where you can and can't fly them, as there are with planes.

The corporations making big money on these will block a lot of this of course, but a system needs to be put in place, not only like you have with planes, but even with motorized vehicles. There are reasons why driving laws exist the way they do, and if you ever wonder how all those driving laws came to be, simply watch these 12 minutes of footage from the dawn of the automobile era: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEvB_ZIWtAg

We are in a similar era with drones. It's a "Wild West" atmosphere where the manufacturers are making big money and no attempt is made to maintain safety. Sooner or later something nasty is going to happen, and it will probably involve a plane crash. THEN you start to see laws enacted. Just pray it's not your loved ones on that sacrificial flight.

Adam Ottke's picture

Totally agree. Besides...once you get your license, the idea is that you then have a clear freedom to act within the laws and regulations to do what you want without constantly worrying and looking over your shoulder. Better yet, by that point, you've also received the appropriate training necessary to operate your aircraft... Win, win, win.

Ted Merklin's picture

Anyone know what the make/model of that drone is?

Inspire 1

it was hollywood, i'm surprised anyone noticed.

David Vaughn's picture

This comment makes no sense.