According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a drone was found on the lawn of the White House raising issues of security risks. Unauthorized aircraft is prohibited over the White House, as well as any congressional buildings and the National Mall.
The problem is that even small drones have the ability to carry small objects and cameras. Making this a real challenge is that drones are readily available and can be flown without having permission from the Federal government.
This morning, a quadcopter, which is a drone designed with four rotors that lift and steer the aircraft and measures approximately two feet in diameter, was found on the White House lawn. At this time, an investigation is underway by the Secret Service. In a statement from Josh Earnest, spokesman, there was no risk from the drone to anyone and both President and Mrs. Obama are currently in India traveling.
Former director of the Secret Service, John Magaw said that discussions have taken place for months between officials with the Secret Service, DC Metropolitan Police, US Park Police, and the Defense Department on how to prevent drones from getting near the White House or any other unauthorized target. He admitted that as far as security, this is a big problem.
One option would involve expanding patrols to areas where drones might be launched around the perimeters of the White House. There were also discussions by blocking a remote pilot’s view by adding or growing foliage or scanning the trajectory for the presence of drones by using special technology.
In addition, jamming radio frequencies between drones and remote pilots is another option being considered. As Magaw explained, jammers can be put up all around an area but it is critical to cover all applicable frequencies. Very quickly, that solution will be implemented.
Associate professor at Denver’s Metropolitan State University and aviation security expert Jeff Price said that the best strategy could be electronic jamming. The reason is that shooting down something as small as a drone is difficult, as well as high-risk. For that reason, some type of electronic countermeasure would be the best strategy.
From February to November of last year, close to 200 drone sightings were reported. On July 7, a person was questioned by the US Park Service after a quadcoper was flow close to the Lincoln Memorial and one day later, the pilot of a Piper P28A airplane being flown at just 2,200 feet noticed a small white drone pass about 400 to 500 feet beneath him going in the direction of the Reagan National Airport.
Then in August, the US Capitol Police stopped to question a man who was operating a drone on US Capitol grounds and in October, flying roughly 150 feet above FedEx Field was a white drone with blue and red lights. The operators of that drone was stopped and questioned by Prince George County Police in Maryland.
The drone in this morning’s incident was spotted by the Secret Service about 3:08 am. It was observed flying extremely low and then eventually crashing on the southeast side of the White House. As new rules for flying drones are being developed by the FAA, it has become apparent that enhanced security is critical.
In a statement from Anthony Foxx, Transportation Security, the agency wants people to fly model aircraft as a means of enjoying a hobby but this has to be done in a safe manner. Because the Department of Transportation believes the responsibility is shared, more information is being provided so people will know exactly what is expected when flying small aircraft to include drones.
Although a man came forward claiming responsibility for the drone crash on the White House lawn, saying it was an unfortunate accident, further investigation is being done to confirm his story.