A man has been arrested by FBI special agents in Los Angeles on charges of recklessly flying a drone that crashed into a police helicopter.
The case against Andrew Rene Hernandez is believed to be the first criminal prosecution ever in the US alleging the unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft.
The pilot of the Los Angeles police department helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing after being struck by the drone over Hollywood in September.
Officers had been responding to reports of a burglary at a pharmacy in the early hours of the morning when they requested air support.
As the helicopter approached the scene, the pilot spotted the drone and tried unsuccessfully to take evasive action. The drone damaged the chopper’s nose, antenna and cowling – the covering of the engine – in the impact.
If the drone had struck the helicopter’s main rotor instead of the fuselage, it could have brought the helicopter down,” according to the criminal complaint filed in the United States District Court.
Officers found parts of the drone on the ground, along with a vehicle damaged by the debris, and identified Hernandez by reviewing the drone’s camera and memory card.