The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee has approved a measure aimed at keeping drones away from airports.
The measure, sought by the panel’s top Democrat, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL, would create a pilot program to test various technologies to intercept or shut down unmanned drones near airports and other sensitive areas. It also would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to work with NASA to test and develop a drone traffic management system.
“The bottom line is that we need to do everything we can to protect the flying public from the threat posed by drones, “ said Nelson, who inserted the provisions in a bill that authorized funding for the FAA. “We can’t afford to have one of these drones bring down an airliner.”
Nelson’s recent push to get new anti-drone technologies comes in the wake of a December report that found at least 241 close calls between aircraft and drones in cities across the U.S. Miami ranked fourth with 24 reported incidents, and Orlando ranked 11th with 13 reported incidents.
Nelson said he was also able to get a number of consumer-friendly provisions inserted into bill. They include:
• Bag Fee Refunds: Requires automatic baggage fee refunds for luggage not delivered within 6 hours after the arrival of a domestic flight and 12 hours after the arrival of an international flight.
• Other Ancillary Fee Refunds: Requires automatic refunds of all other ancillary fees (paid seats, priority boarding, etc.) that are not delivered on a flight. Also requires fee refunds if a passenger cancels the flight.
• Fee Disclosure: Requires airlines to provide consumers with a standardized disclosure of all bag fees, cancellation fees, change fees, ticketing fees, and seat selection fees before a ticket is purchased.
• Seat Assignments: Requires airlines to notify consumers that they do not have to pay in advance for a seat assignment and that, if they do not, one will be assigned to them for free at check in or prior to departure.
• Child Seating: Requires airlines, at the time of booking, to notify families if adjoining seats are not available for free.
The FAA Reauthorization Act now heads to the full Senate for consideration.