FAA eases flight restrictions over selected federal facilities

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and US Department of Defense reduced flight restrictions for drones over select facilities during specified times from September 2019. The intermittent restrictions replace a blanket flight ban close to government facilities and need to be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA. The FAA is working to ensure that restrictions are narrowly tailored and remain in effect only when necessary.

Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) issued in advance indicate the sites where these intermittent restrictions apply. Drone operators identify the status of the airspace at these locations using the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System UAS Data Delivery System (UDDS) interactive map which shows the following:

  • The airspace shapes turn gray when the §99.7 (special security instructions) airspace is inactive and no restrictions are placed on drone operators.
  • Approximately 24 hours before restrictions are activated, the designated airspace changes to yellow as a warning that restrictions will soon become active.
  • At the end of the 24-hour warning window, the designated airspace changes to red while the drone restrictions are in effect.
  • The specific activation times can also be viewed by clicking on the individual airspace shapes in UDDS. Operators are expected to check the UDDS website before and during UAS flights, especially when operating near or within the defined airspace to which recurring transient special security instructions are applied.

Operators who violate the flight restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties, criminal charges, or the loss of their UAS from counter-UAS activities.

The FAA is continuing to consider additional requests by eligible federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using the agency’s existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) §99.7 as they are received. Additional changes to these restrictions will be announced by the FAA as appropriate.

Information on the NOTAM which defines these restrictions, and the locations covered, is available to the public. To ensure the public is aware of these restricted locations, the UDDS also provides an interactive map, downloadable geospatial data, and other details. A link to these restrictions is included in the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app.

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