FBI Charlotte
Public Affairs Specialist Shelley Lynch
slynch@fbi.gov
December 14, 2020

FBI Charlotte Seeking Information on Illegal Drone Activity

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is seeking to identify the person(s) responsible for illegally flying a drone on multiple occasions near a flight path to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Between October 30, 2020, and December 8, 2020, there have been at least five reports by commercial airline pilots of a drone flying at least 4,000 feet in the air in the Fort Mill area.

In 2018, The Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act included 18 USC 39B, which federally criminalizes “Unsafe Operation of Unmanned Aircraft”. Specifically, knowing or reckless interference or disruption of a manned aircraft, and the operation of unmanned aircraft in close proximity to airports. While the drone(s) did not come into direct contact with an airplane or cause a pilot to make an evasive maneuver, the actions are illegal and extremely dangerous.

Anyone flying a drone as prohibited by law and described in 18 USC 39B can face federal criminal charges, fined and imprisoned for up to life or both. It is possible the drone operator(s) are not aware they are violating the law. We encourage anyone with knowledge of illegal drone flying, especially one or more in the Fort Mill area to contact the FBI at 704-672-6100.

As we get closer to Christmas, drones will be given and received as gifts. We encourage the public to abide by federal and state laws. You can learn more https://www.faa.gov/uas/.