Washington, D.C. – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today introduced the Drone Operator Safety Act, legislation that would impose criminal penalties for the unsafe operation of unmanned aircraft. The bill is a House companion to legislation introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).


“While this proposal may sound like common sense to some, these guidelines must be enacted in order to ensure the safety of this new technology,” said Langevin. “Affordable recreational drone operation is an exciting technological development, but we must figure out a way to resolve the serious risks to airplanes that occupy the same airspace. I applaud Senator Whitehouse for identifying a step forward to address this public safety concern, and I am proud to be taking the lead on this legislative effort in the House to make our skies safer.”


The Drone Operator Safety Act defines and criminalizes the activity of piloting drones near active runways or close to the flight path of passenger aircraft. The bill creates a new “Runway Exclusion Zone” that explicitly bans drone flights in the immediate area of airport runways. This bill will create stronger assurances that takeoffs and landings will be free from drone interference.


Whitehouse successfully championed the inclusion of this measure in the Senate’s reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Langevin hopes to build on that success by ensuring the House includes this important language as it takes up the larger FAA bill later this year.


“Thank you to Congressman Langevin for championing this bill in the House,” said Whitehouse. “Drones are an exciting new technology that will be used more and more in the years to come. Our legislation will help make sure drones are used safely and responsibly around our airports.”