"I saw a drone 15 miles to the right," a Turkish Airlines pilot said to air traffic control as he was preparing to land at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport a few days ago. The sighting of the unmanned aerial vehicle, a device especially popular among amateur and professional photographers and videographers as well as enthusiasts, is nothing new for pilots. However, it indicates that the risk from drones for air traffic still lingers two years after the country imposed tighter regulations on the issue. The pilot of the Zurich-Istanbul flight who reported the latest sighting noted that the drone was flying at an altitude of about 2,500 feet, a much higher altitude than most standard drones used by hobbyists are capable of. It is unclear who was operating the drone at the busy airport.
Due to the increasing numbers of drones in recent years and their use threatening flight security, Istanbul's Atatürk Airport became the first "no drone zone" as warning signs were placed on fences around the airport in 2015.
In March 2015, the General Directorate of State Airports Authority (DHMİ) pressed charges against a person flying a drone over the airport. In the same year, authorities banned the flight of drones over airports, sports competitions, concerts and other crowded open-air venues without permission.
Mainly used to capture aerial footage, drones threaten the flight security of planes, especially during takeoff and landing.
A drone enthusiast, became the first person to be handed a prison sentence last year for drone use at Atatürk Airport. He claimed he was only flying the drone "near the airport," but a court gave him a suspended sentence of 10 months in prison for violating the air traffic ban after lawyers for the airport authority argued it was a crime to endanger flight traffic by putting a foreign object in the flight zone.
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