The Court of Competition, Regulation and Supervision (TCRS) has upheld the conviction, but reduced the fine imposed on a drone owner by half, following an incident which saw the drone crash onto Lisbon airport runway,.
In February 2019, the National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) imposed a fine of €3,900, claiming that "the pilot violated the rules of the air, which establish the regime of civil aeronautical administrative offenses", but the man then appealed to the TCRS.
In the ruling, the court upheld the administrative offense determined by ANAC, the aviation sector regulator, but reduced the fine to be paid by the owner to half: €1,750.
The incident, which took place on the afternoon of August 20, 2018, "led to an interruption of the operation of the airport for eight minutes, due to the closure of [air] traffic", said ANA - Aeroportos de Portugal, adding that “the drone was found on the runway and was then handed over to the authorities”.
The following day, PSP police identified and named the owner of the drone that fell on the runway at Humberto Delgado Airport, in Lisbon.
The police also communicated the facts to the Public Prosecutor's Office to investigate the possible crime of “Attack to the safety of transport by air, water or rail”, provided for in article 288 of the Penal Code, the penalty of which may range from one to 10 years of prison, which is still going on.
That day, another police source told Lusa that the drone's owner was a professional photographer who was doing work for a real estate agency, when he lost control of the device.
In the appeal, the drone owner explained that the loss of control of the drone was due to the wind and that the last location he had of the device was Avenida da Igreja, where he travelled to, but he could not find the drone, which had actually fallen on the Lisbon airport runway.
The defendant also said that he is "convinced" that his drone "did not stop operations at the airport".
The photographer, who was on the roof of the 15th floor of a building, located at the junction between Avenida Estados Unidos da América and Avenida Rio de Janeiro, "was carrying out photography work," for a real estate agency, "filming in an apartment on Avenida Estados Unidos da América, in order to promote its sale”.
The defendant told Judge Sérgio Paiva de Sousa, who signed the sentence, that he was not sure whether it was prohibited or not to operate the drone in that area, "but he confirmed that he saw planes pass by", according to the court, "without the necessary care and diligence to make sure he could operate a drone in that location.”
ANAC regulation prohibits the flight of drones (unmanned aerial vehicle) at more than 120 metres in height, and in the approach and take-off areas of airports.