Eight drone pilots fined for breaching Helsinki no-fly zone

Police use tech and human resources to keep the skies clear for high level EU meetings taking place in the capital.

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File picture of drone / Credit: iStock

Eight drone pilots have been fined after their machines breached a strict no-fly zone around Finlandia Hall during last week’s EU ministerial meetings.

Police say the pilots will be penalised with day fines, which vary in amount depending on what their income is, however officers believe the drone pilots were hobbyists, rather than having any malicious intent to disrupt the meetings.

There are some permanent no-drone zones in Helsinki, but extra restrictions have been put in place during the six-month Finnish Presidency of the European Council when EU leaders are meeting at Finlandia Hall in particular.

Police say it’s not always easy for drone pilots to find out where and when airspace is restricted, so they’ve launched a new campaign to help keep people better informed.

“It’s quite complicated for hobbyists to find the correct information about temporary flight restrictions” says Superintendent Sami Hätönen from the National Police Board.

“We launched an information campaign with Helsinki Police Department where we tried to explain how to find the right information because we are trying to prevent the crimes from happening” he says.

Police officers say it’s the responsibility of the drone pilots to educate themselves about which restrictions are in place, and when. In general, information can be found at the website droneinfo.fi however it doesn’t always get updated with the temporary restrictions during EU Presidency meetings.

The most up-to-date information can be found at ais.fi and from police bulletins in the days before the EU conferences.

Police eyes in the skies 

During the EU ministerial meetings and other VIP visits, there are often drones in the skies above the city. These are very likely to belong to the police.

As part of their anti-drone efforts, to stop people breaching the no-fly zones, police use a range of tactics including their own drones and spotters on tall buildings.

“We have our own methods how to catch them, and nobody should try to test how efficient our actions are” Superintendent Hätönen tells News Now Finland.

“We are very prepared for this kind of operations during the EU meetings.”