Four people detained in China after disrupting airport with drone operation

Satellite image of Beijing International Airport, by Google Earth.

Satellite image of Beijing International Airport, by Google Earth.

Four men have been detained by Chinese authorities and accused of endangering public security after flying a home-built drone near Beijing's flagship airport.

According to South China Morning Post, the men were employees of a company that was conducting a land survey with a small unmanned aircraft system.

On the morning of December 29, China's Civil Aviation Administration identified the aircraft flying at 700 feet, at a speed of about 60 miles per hour. Authorities diverted two commercial airplanes, dispatched a police helicopter, and delayed another 12 flights to avoid collision with the aircraft.

The individuals operating the unmanned aircraft reportedly did not have authorization to fly.

The Post reported that unmanned aircraft are banned from entering a 15 kilometer radius around an airport, and may not fly higher than 100 meters (328 feet) at any time. Additionally, all flights must be approved by aviation authorities.

Aerial photography is a booming business in China. In November, the Post reported that a Beijing-based company experienced a "flood of business," after its aerial video of a massive illegal rooftop structure went viral.

In the United Kingdom, the altitude limit for unmanned aircraft is 120 meters above ground level (393 feet). Meanwhile, in the United States, the altitude limit for recreational model aircraft is 400 feet (122 meters).

Posted on January 2, 2014 .