Drones, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) represent the future in so many different ways. For both the professional and amateur operator, UAS are fun and interesting to fly, but come with some very real responsibilities. There have been a number of close calls between aircraft in flight and UAVs. Most have involved someone unfamiliar with airspace restrictions flying a UAS too close to an airplane in flight. A collision between an aircraft and a UAS (even a small one) could spell disaster, and possibly result in loss of life. This is why all segments of the aviation industry are encouraging all UAS operators to become aware of their responsibilities.

Here are some guidelines for safe operation of a UAS:

Recreational Drone Use In Controlled Airspace

Please see the FAA's latest update for recreational flyers here:  Recreational Drone Use Update

Notification to air traffic control towers or local airports is no longer required to operate a drone outside of Class "G" airspace. To operate in controlled airspace, recreational users must now obtain FAA authorization through an approved UAS Service Supplier (USS), which facilitates the application and approval process between the user and the FAA. An airspace authorization through the FAA's Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) will be required to enter controlled airspace. The LAANC system is now available to Recreational flyers. However, recreational flyers are not allowed to fly in Arlington Municipal Airport's airspace at this time because the LAANC system does not include Arlington Municipal Airport's airspace. 

Commercial Drone Use In Controlled Airspace

Under part 107, drone pilots planning to fly in controlled airspace must get permission from the FAA. Please submit requests for authorization to fly in controlled airspace near airports via the LAANC and the DroneZone systems. 

Finally, understand the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) authority

The FAA regulates all aspects of aviation in the United States, including UAS. The FAA’s authority extends from licensing aviation professionals to operating the nation’s air traffic control system (ATC), responsible for safely separating all aircraft from each other when they fly, to regulating every aspect of airport operation. The airspace above your home, your business, or even the local park, is under the jurisdiction of the FAA.

Just as pilots of aircraft carefully follow FAA regulations, so must UAS operators. UAS are a relatively recent phenomenon, and the FAA is still developing the rules they’ll use to determine how drones can safely share the same airspace as commercial, private, and military aircraft. Check the FAA’s website frequently for changes on how and where owners are allowed to legally fly their UAVs. Remember, violation of federal regulations may result in severe penalties. As federal regulations on UAS are still evolving, it’s critical to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. We appreciate your cooperation and commitment to safety in the aviation community. 

Always Remember

  • Register your UAS.
  • Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles.
  • Keep the UAS within visual line of sight at all times.
  • Remain well clear of, and do not interfere with, manned aircraft operations.
  • Receive an airspace authorization before flying in controlled airspace
  • Don’t fly near people or stadiums.
  • Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 pounds.
  • Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft - you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft.
  • Don’t fly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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