FBI: At least 5 pilots report drone flying near Charlotte Douglas flight path

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The FBI is looking for whoever has been illegally flying a drone recently near a flight path to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

According to the FBI, there have been at least five reports by commercial airline pilots of a drone flying at least 4,000 feet in the air between Oct. 30 and Dec. 8.

Officials said it has been happening in the Fort Mill area.

In 2018, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act criminalized “unsafe operation of unmanned aircraft.” This specifically applies to “knowing or reckless interference or disruption of a manned aircraft, and the operation of unmanned aircraft in close proximity to airports.”

While the drone did not come into direct contact with the airplane or cause a pilot to avoid it, the FBI said these actions are illegal and extremely dangerous.

Anyone flying a drone near a plane or a flight path can face federal criminal charges, fines and be imprisoned for up to life.

Authorities said it is possible the drone operator is not aware they are violating the law. With Christmas around the corner and drones being given and received as gifts, the FBI encouraged the public to follow federal and state laws as it applies to flying drones.