Pennsylvania’s drone operators to benefit from federal, rather than “outdated” county, rules

The Pennsylvania Drone Association, the Pittsburgh Drone Masters and Allegheny County have collaborated to address Allegheny County Code 650-2(A), which appears to prohibit the operation of drones in areas not expressly permitted by the county.

While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) maintains jurisdiction of the National Air Space at the state level, Pennsylvania prohibits the use of drones in a manner that places another person in reasonable fear of bodily injury, or to conduct surveillance of another person in a private place. Further, Pennsylvania law shall pre-empt and supersede any ordinance, resolution, rule or other enactment of a municipality regulating the ownership or operation of unmanned aircraft.

In response, Allegheny County has removed all of its signage citing the ordinance. Additionally, county officials have instructed the police department to stop writing citations for drone operators in regard to the ordinance because of its violation of the state pre-emption. Drone operators must still operate according to state and federal laws.

“While this is a win for the drone community not just here in Pennsylvania but across the country, safe uninhibited operation of unmanned aircraft systems remains our priority,” said David Heath, executive director of the Pennsylvania Drone Association. “The lifting of the ban will reinstate the basic rights of local pilots and allow for further development of the drone industry within the region,” said Dan Calig, president of the Pittsburgh Drone Masters.

Drones are quickly becoming an essential tool in many commercial industries including: utilities, public safety, agriculture, engineering, construction, insurance and more. These tools provide a great resource for drone flyers and countless communities across the commonwealth.

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