FAA Joins Probe of Drone Crash Into Stands at U.S. Open Tennis
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is joining an investigation by local authorities into a drone that crashed into the stands at the U.S. Open Tennis Championships in New York City late Thursday.
The small, unmanned quadcopter crashed into an empty section of seats at a stadium in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens during an evening match between Flavia Pennetta of Italy and Monica Niculescu of Romania.
A 26-year-old teacher, Daniel Verley, has been arrested for reckless operation and flying the drone outside an approved area, according to the Associated Press. No one was injured in the incident.
The FAA, which has set rules for operating drones away from crowds and aviation facilities, announced in a posting on Twitter Friday that it would would investigate the incident.
Concerns about drones are rising as the number of unmanned aircraft in the U.S. rises sharply. As many as 500,000 have been sold in the U.S., according to aviation industry groups.
A drone landed on the White House lawn earlier this year. In August, pilots approachingNewark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey spotted an unmanned craft. There have also been close encounters with aircraft fighting wildfires in California.
Thursday’s incident at the 10,000-seat Louis Armstrong Stadium, the second largest arena at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, wasn’t the year’s first brush between a drone and one of tennis’ four majors.
In the U.K., police seized a drone flying over the All England Lawn Tennis Club, the site of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, before the tournament started in June.
Pilots reported 650 encounters with drones to the FAA through Aug. 9 compared with 238 in 2014, according to data released by the agency. Assuming the reports continue at the current rate, there would be more than four times the safety incidents by the end of this year.
Pennetta, who told reporters she initially thought the crashed drone may have been a bomb, went on to win the match 6-1, 6-4.