Several recent drone sightings near Massachusetts airfields heighten concerns about the security of the airspace around airports

Washington (February 8, 2016) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D – Mass.), a member of the Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security, today sent a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inquiring about what steps it is taking to prevent hobbyist drones from colliding with aircraft near Massachusetts airfields. There have been several reported sightings of drones near Massachusetts airports in recent years, raising concerns about the safety and security of the airspace around the Commonwealth’s airports. The Boston Globe reported that just last month on New Year’s Day, a commercial plane reportedly spotted a drone flying 700 feet in the air just one mile from Logan International Airport.


“As the steward of our nation’s aviation safety, it is the FAA’s responsibility to ensure that drones are safely operating within the national airspace,” writes Senator Markey. “All it takes is one drone to fly into the path of one passenger jet and a disaster can ensue.  We must take action before a catastrophe like this happens.”

A copy of the letter to the FAA can be found HERE.

In the letter, Senator Markey asks the FAA questions that include:

  • In 2014, 2015, and so far in 2016, how many drones have been spotted within five miles of a Massachusetts airport, and how did the FAA respond?
  • How does the FAA collaborate with state and local law enforcement to respond to drone sightings near airports?
  • How does the FAA encourage drone manufacturers to promote awareness of where hobbyists can fly their drones?
  • What technological solutions is the FAA exploring to prevent drone collisions and improve safety?


In 2015, Senator Markey and Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced bicameral legislation to establish safeguards to protect the privacy of individuals from the expanded use of drones. The Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act will ensure standards for informing the public about the location, timing and ownership of commercial and government drones. The legislation also will require privacy protection provisions relating to data collection and minimization, disclosure, warrant requirements for law enforcement, and enforcement measures in the licensing and operation of commercial and government drones.