Hold your drones, Latvian authorities warn

The State Police and the Civil Aviation Agency remind the public that unmanned aircraft (drones) are not a toy that can be used anywhere, Latvian Television reported September 9.

The Latvian State Radio and Television Center (LVRTC) on Zaķusala is also frequently encountering drones, which is prohibited and could be dangerous. Transmitters, antennas, television and radio hardware, if collided into, can lead to thousands of euros in losses and a headache for many. Therefore, Zaķusala is one of the places where drone flights are not permitted without special consent.

Edmunds Beļskis, head of LVTRC, said: “We have faced the small manufactured ones, but there are also homemade drones. In 2019, one homemade drone, flown by a non-Latvian citizen, lost control. In these cases we involve both the State Police and the Security Police, because the objectives can be different,” Beļskis said.

Ilmārs Ozols, representative of the Civil Aviation Agency, Also, highlighted the hazards posed in such places not only by the drone pilot but also by the electromagnetic field around the tower.

“The [drone pilots] are divided into the honest and not so honest. There are users who have a lower level of responsibility and are also malicious. Problems usually occur when technical issues arise. Flying in the vicinity of such antennas and radars may threaten this facility, but the electromagnetic field can influence this system and the drone simply falls or flies where it wants and then falls,” Ozols said.

In the past four months, the State Police has received reports on 28 cases of suspicious unmanned aircraft flights conducted in their private areas. While responding to calls, it is not always possible to catch the perpetrator, but police plan to buy equipment to be able to identify an unmanned aircraft pilot by the drone's serial number.

“In the near future, the police plan to buy such equipment. We don't have it right now. This is a new area and we are trying to get to know it ourselves. In the near future we will have facilities, personnel who will also deal with this area,” said Edgars Liepa of the State Police.

There are certain areas in Latvia where flights are to be conducted only with special permits, but it is not possible to control each flight. As one of the solutions to avoid flying at critical infrastructure sites, there is a system that prevents drones from physically taking off before submitting the necessary documents. It is already operating in the area of Riga Airport, but in the coming years, such a system may also appear in the vicinity of other sites.

The penalty for the unauthorized flying of drones can be up to EUR 2000 for the owner. Users of drones must follow the information regarding the restrictions specified on the home page of the State SC Latvian Air Traffic.

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