St. Louis police seek owner of drone that crashed into high-rise

Reuters News
Posted: May 08, 2014 4:57 PM

By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - Police are looking for the owner of an unmanned drone that crashed into the highest office building in St. Louis, officials said on Thursday.

The DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter was found by security officers, broken from impact and lying on a 30th floor balcony of the Metropolitan Square building in downtown St. Louis on Monday, police said.

As of Thursday, nobody has come forward with information to help identify the owner, said St. Louis police spokeswoman Schron Jackson. The police did not say whether a crime might be involved in the crash of the drone at the 42-story building.

The drone, equipped with a camera, sells for about $1,300, a police report said.

The FAA was investigating the crash, but has turned the case over to local law enforcement until more information is available, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said on Thursday.

Commercial use of drones is prohibited under FAA regulations and private flying of them as a hobby requires the aircraft to be kept below 400 feet, Cory said. Regulations are being developed that may result in more rules in the flying of drones, she added.

Safety and privacy issues have surrounded the use of drones in recent years. The FAA has certified use of drones by various public entities around the country, mostly law enforcement and universities, records show.

Congress has asked the FAA to develop a plan of "safe integration" of commercial unmanned aircraft by September 30, 2015, according to the FAA website. In late 2013, the FAA picked six U.S. sites for research and testing of unmanned aircraft in preparation for the regulations.

The FAA estimates that five years after commercial regulations are in place, about 7,500 commercial drones will be in use.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Missouri; editing by G Crosse)