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No-fly zone Drones banned during Geneva meeting and Iran talks

Drone interceptors are one of the existing means to deal with errant drones

(Keystone)

The cantons of Geneva and Vaud have imposed restrictions on the use of drones during March. The aim is to minimise any risk to VIPs visiting the region for high-level international meetings in Geneva and Montreux.

According to a statement released by the Vaud cantonal police on Sunday, the authorities in Geneva decided on February 26 to ban all drone flights over certain sensitive zones as a precautionary measure during the 28th Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva.

Both the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the session, which started on Monday. The two men also met to discuss the conflict in Ukraine.

“Currently civilian drones are part of a catalogue of potential threats,” said the Vaud police statement. “We cannot exclude the possibility that such machines could disturb the meetings.”

The statement also indicated that the ban conforms to federal laws and police regulations.

Confiscated or destroyed

Crowded sky Keeping drones on a leash

Drones have become an indispensable tool for many businesses but their wider use raises security and privacy questions. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

It is estimated that the Swiss population owns around 22,000 drones. Many businesses have started relaying heavily on their use but they have also become  very popular among enthusiasts.

In certain areas drones, or multicopters, as drones of this kind are technically known, have become an essential tool. Multicopters can in fact be equipped with high-resolution cameras or multi-functional cameras that can be put to different uses.  

Beside offering higher vantage points to photographers and film-makers, other uses include the inspection of power lines and land surveying. Through photogrammetry drones help map areas that would otherwise of difficult to access. Others use drones to inspect buildings’ insulation through infrared cameras and the crop inspection for farmers.

Security concerns over the high number of drones prompted the Swiss Federal Office for Civil Aviation to introduce stricter regulations in August 2014 requiring, among other things, users to obtain permission for the use of drones weighing more than 30 kg or when flying over crowds.

The Geneva drone ban is effective for the duration of the meeting (March 1-27). The areas covered include the communes of Pregny-Chambésy, Grand-Saconnex and the Geneva right bank, as well as the areas of Jonction, Plainpalais, Old Town and Eaux-Vives.

On February 28, the canton of Vaud also decided to ban drones in Montreux, where international talks to limit Iran’s nuclear programme are being held. John Kerry headed to Montreux on Monday where he met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for the talks.

The Montreux drone ban is in effect for the period March 1-10 over the commune of Montreux as well as within one kilometre of the Lake Geneva shoreline.

Drones that violate this ban will be “confiscated or destroyed, depending on the threat they pose” and the drone pilot will be reported to the Federal Office of Civil Aviation, according to the Vaud police statement.  

swissinfo.ch

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