- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Thursday he is urging the Federal Aviation Administration to take steps to address a surge in drones, saying they’ve become a serious risk to air travel.

Appearing at Bradley International Airport with two commercial pilots, the Connecticut Democrat announced his support for legislation that would clarify the FAA’s authority to oversee drones used or manufactured for recreation. Blumenthal is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which oversees the FAA.

Citing FAA numbers, Blumenthal said pilots have reported more than 650 sightings of drones near planes and helicopters so far this year. That’s compared with 238 in 2014.

“What we have right now is essentially a Wild West in air space with no rules of the road,” he said.

While FAA was authorized in 2012 to regulate commercial drones, Blumenthal said, “glaring gaps” exist when it comes to recreational drones. The senator said the popular devices are now treated as model airplanes.

Under the proposed Consumer Drone Safety Act, which Blumenthal is co-sponsoring with other Democratic senators, there would be restrictions on where, how and when recreational drones can be flown. Also, it would require certain technologies be used, such as so-called geo-fencing, to prevent drones from entering air space at an airport.

Connecticut lawmakers recently considered state legislation to regulate drones, but Blumenthal said he believes the issue is better suited for federal action.

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