FAA warns drone operators not to hamper Hurricane Harvey rescue efforts

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has asked unauthorised drone users to stay away from rescue efforts currently being carried out in response to Hurricane Harvey.

According to the agency, flying drones near the disaster hit areas in Texas could affect the ongoing rescue and recovery missions of US National Guard, US Marine Corps, US Coast Guard and the Texas Military Department as evacuations escalate due to rising water.

Drone hobbyists could face penalties if they do not abide by the warning, said the agency.

“Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.”

The FAA said in a statement: “Flying a drone without authorisation in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place.

“Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.”

The FAA has also imposed restrictions on the majority of commercial flights and asked them to fly as high as 3,000ft across long stretches around greater Houston.

The no-fly zone is created to provide a safe environment for aviation operations carrying out disaster response and recovery missions of the tropical storm.

However, the agency has excluded search-and-rescue teams, military and law enforcement personnel from the flight ban, reported Bloomberg.

The FAA has also established a Mobile Air Traffic Control Tower (MATCT) at Fort Worth Meacham (KTFW) Airport in Texas to deploy additional rescue efforts if required.