Drone-like Toy Planes in Bomb Plot May Raise More Concerns

Just as the business world is awaiting an official go-ahead from FAA for the use of drones for commercial purposes, an incident recently took place that may raise more safety alarms, and prolong the FAA’s issuance of its rulings.

A Moroccan national who allegedly plotted to turn a radio-controlled model airplane into a drone-like flying bomb and crash it into a school and a Connecticut federal building was arrested Monday by FBI agents. According to the report, though wires and tools were found in the apartment where the suspect had been staying, it was uncertain whether any explosives were found. Read more here

The FBI arrested 27-year-old El Mehdi Semlali Fahti on Monday on immigration-related charges, and he may later face terrorism charges in a federal grand jury investigation, federal prosecutors said. The FBI said Fahti was secretly recorded by an undercover agent saying he studied the bomb attack operation for months. See more here

This disturbing news came at the heels of another incident involving toy planes. A piece of news that appeared in time.com earlier in the month reported that South Korean authorities recovered two crude drones that experts say are little more than model airplane with a camera. Read more

The fact that in these two incidents, toy planes were involved, can indeed raise more fears among those not yet ready to entertain the idea of seeing drones in the skies, as drones are often associated with “a targeted killing program,” and because currently, though drones are highly restricted in American airspace: the FAA prohibits their use except through specific test-site approval or, in the case of smaller drones, as model airplanes and toys. Besides the absence of authorization, there are two main obstacles to greater drone use by companies, organizations, and citizens within the United States: worries about privacy among the general public, and fear of safety risks from the FAA. See here

Still, it is just as well a risk like this has been discovered early on while the FAA is still in the process of mapping out its safety guidelines governing commercial drones. More safety measures can be incorporated, and those in the drone industry can still improve and advance the technology to fence off any unforseen danger should it fall into the wrong hands.


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