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NYC Lawmakers Pushing To Overturn 1948 Law, Allow Drones To Do Building Inspections

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- City officials are backing a plan to allow drones to inspect buildings.

The move comes after an architect was tragically killed last week by falling facade from a building in Midtown, CBS2's Dave Carlin reported Sunday.

"We need to get creative," Councilman Justin Brannan said.

Some city council members want to lift building inspections in New York City to new heights.

They want to check for problems by air -- not with helicopters, but with things much smaller.

"The city needs to embrace drone technology," Brannan said.

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Bills are in the works to mandate timely drone checks.

Web Extra: Brooklyn Borough President Pushes Using Drones For Building Inspections:

"It would require Department of Buildings to conduct an initial drone inspection within 48 hours of a 311 complaint or a DOB violation," Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said.

The push to fast track the proposals are coming as a result of Tuesday's falling debris death of architect Erica Tishman, as she walked on West 49th Street near Seventh Avenue.

"What happened to Erica Tishman appeared to be completely avoidable tragedy. Inspectors issued a violation back in April. Erica was killed in December," Brannan said.

Drones can get in close where inspectors cannot and before costly scaffolding needs to be put up.

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While other smaller cities can use them for building inspections, "Due to an outdated law, drones usage remains complex in New York City and our city has been behind there," said Zachary Hect of Tech:NYC.

But some in the Big Apple worry about adding to crowded airspace, and the potential for drone-related terror attacks.

"I wouldn't like to see it," one man said. "I think it might cause some chaos and confusion."

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The speakers at Sunday's event said the old 1948 law, which requires that all aircraft take off and land in a location designated for flight by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, essentially the city's two airports, prevented them from doing a demonstration with a drone in the air. Instead, it had to stay on the table.

Inspecting nooks and crannies of City Hall, Carlin saw that the drone cameras detect heat and zoom in for views the human eye can't see.

"You'd not only be able to tell if it's about to fall, you'd be able to tell if there is water seeping in to it," said Edward Kostakis of DJI, the world's largest manufacturer of commercial and consumer drones. "City Hall is looking pretty in tact. It is stone. It is solid."

Supporters of the plans said they hope Mayor Bill de Blasio and leaders of the Department of Buildings and NYPD voice strong support to boost the effort and see it take flight.

Building owners would be required to get the drone checks done with private companies, working with the Department of Buildings and NYPD.

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