Where to Fly Your Drone (Safely & Legally)
The airspace over the United States is one of the most complex in the world, and is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Anyone operating a drone in the United States is responsible for flying within the guidelines and regulations outlined by the FAA. These regulations apply to both recreational and commercial UAV operators. Learning where it is and is not safe to fly can be confusing, so we’ve outlined some of the most commonly overlooked regulations to help you find out where to fly.
Airspace restrictions have been implemented in certain areas across the United States, especially around airports, so that your UAS does not endanger people or aircraft.
Security Sensitive Airspace Restrictions
The FAA has prohibited all UAS flights within the airspace defined under UAS NOTAM FDC7/7137. The restrictions extend from the ground up to 400 feet AGL, apply to all types and purposes of UAS flight operations, and remain in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Temporary Flight Restrictions
Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) define a specific area of airspace where air travel is limited because of a temporary hazardous condition, a security-related event, or other special situations. Some events that would result in TFRs are wildfires, chemical spills, or Presidential visit. To access active TFRs in your area, you can visit the TFR website.
Restricted or Special Use Airspace
The airspace surrounding Washington DC is the most restricted in the country. Flying you drone is illegal in any of the restricted airspace above the Nation’s capital. This area is called a No Drone Zone.
Special use airspace is used to designate airspace in which certain activities must be confined, or where limitations may be imposed on aircraft operations that are not part of those activities. Types of Special Use Airspace include:
- Prohibited & Restricted areas
- Military operation areas (MOAs)
- Alert areas
- Controlled firing areas (CFAs)
Stadiums and Sporting Events
Flying UAS in and around stadiums is prohibited starting one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled time of any of the following events:
- Major League Baseball
- National Football League
- NCAA Division One Football
- NASCAR Sprint Cup, Indy Car, and Champ Series races
Specifically, UAS operations are prohibited within a radius of 3 nautical miles of the stadium or event venue.
Recreational drone operators are required to give notice for flights within five miles of an airport to both the airport operator and air traffic control tower. However, recreational operations are not permitted in Class B airspace around most major airports without specific air traffic permission and coordination. Before flying within five miles of any airport, it is recommended to contact the airport operator for permission.
For real-time information about airspace restrictions and other flying requirements based on your location, download the FAA’s safety app. More information on the app can be found on the B4UFLY page of the FAA website.
This article is for general information purposes only. Please check FAA guidelines before flying your UAS, as regulations may have changed since the date of publication.