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FAA to Limit Restrictions on Drone Use Near Federal Facilities

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by Patrick J. Paul

On August 29, the Federal Aviation Administration announced that it was working with other federal agencies to reduce the impact of flight restrictions imposed on drone operators flying in close proximity to certain federal facilities.

In particular, the FAA announced that it is working with the Department of Defense to create intermittent restrictions on certain drone flights. Currently, drone operators are prohibited from flying their drones near federal facilities at all times. The FAA is hoping to adopt an approach that would limit such restrictions to particular times of day and even then, only when necessary.

Under the proposal, Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) will be issued in advance and identify those sites where intermittent restrictions will apply. The FAA believes that drone operators should be able to identify the status of the airspace at these locations using the agency’s Unmanned Aircraft System UAS Data Display System’s (UDDS) interactive map.

Additionally, the FAA will consider more requests by eligible federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using the FAA’s existing authority under 14 C.F.R. § 99.7 as they are received. Further revisions to these types of restrictions will be announced by the FAA on an ongoing basis.

Drone pilots are encouraged to check both NOTAMS and Temporary Flight Restrictions frequently, especially when operating near or within those defined airspaces to which such restrictions are imposed.