“Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items. Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.”
Thank you for the tip, Federal Aviation Administration.
And where might we have seen online photos and videos of a flamethrower-outfitted drone? Perhaps from Throwflame, manufacturers of the TF-19 WASP, “a drone flamethrower attachment designed for remote ignition of aerial and ground targets, bringing new levels of efficiency and manageability to agriculture.” And while Throwflame insists its products are legal, the FAA may have something else to say on the matter.
Look, watching a drone torch trees and piles of leaves from 25 feet away is objectively cool. Just check it out:
So it’s no wonder that if someone has a drone, they’re going to want to attach a flamethrower to it. Alas, that’s not exactly legal, as the FAA has explained before when people were trying to toast their Thanksgiving turkeys from the air.
Now, the FAA is pointing drone pilots to Section 363 of the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, which states that a person “may not operate an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system that is equipped or armed with a dangerous weapon.” And “dangerous weapon,” in case you’re wondering, means any “weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury.” And yes, that includes flamethrowers.
Sure, there have been some legal arguments made regarding the FAA’s ability to regulate drones used on (and above) personal private property. But do you really want to risk $25,000 in fines to outfit the latest in criminal accessories with the latest in flamethrowing technology?
- FAA Warns You Not to Put a Flamethrower on That Drone (CNET)
- Amazon: Our Exploding Drones Will Be Safer for You. Really (FindLaw’s Injured)
- Elon Musk Sells Flamethrowers: Are They Legal to Own? (FindLaw Blotter)
- Don’t Use Drones to Deal Drugs (FindLaw’s Legally Weird)