New Changes to Recreational Drone Flying in the United States
There’s a new law (PDF) that describes how, when, and where you can fly drones for recreational purposes. Following these rules will keep you and your drone safe and will help keep the airspace available to everyone.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Register your drone, mark it on the outside with the registration number (PDF), and carry proof of registration with you.
- Fly only for recreational purposes.
- Follow the safety guidelines of a community based organization.
- Fly your drone at or below 400 feet when in uncontrolled or “Class G” airspace. This is airspace where the FAA is not controlling manned air traffic. To determine what type of airspace you are in, refer to the mobile application that operates your drone (if so equipped) and/or use other drone-related mobile applications. Knowing your location and what airspace you’re in will also help you avoid interfering with other aircraft.
- Do NOT fly in controlled airspace (around and above many airports) unless:You are flying at a recreational flyer fixed site that has an agreement with the FAA. The FAA has posted a list of approved sites (MS Excel) and has depicted them as blue dots on a map. Each fixed site is limited to the altitude shown on this map, which varies by location.
NOTE: Flight in controlled airspace is temporarily limited to these fixed fields. The FAA is upgrading the online system, known as LAANC (the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability), so that recreational operations can get automated airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace. This system is currently only available for certified Part 107 drone pilots.
NOTE: If your organization is interested in establishing a letter of agreement for a fixed flying site, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Keep your drone within your line of sight, or within the visual line-of-sight of a visual observer who is co-located and in direct communication with you.
- Do NOT fly in airspace where flight is prohibited. Airspace restrictions can be found on our interactive map, and temporary flight restrictions can be found here. Drone operators are responsible for ensuring they comply with all airspace restrictions.
- Never fly near other aircraft, especially near airports.
- Never fly over groups of people, public events, or stadiums full of people.
- Never fly near emergencies such as any type of accident response, law enforcement activities, firefighting, or hurricane recovery efforts.
- Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Recreational flyers should know that if they intentionally violate any of these safety requirements, and/or operate in a careless and reckless manner, they could be liable for criminal and/or civil penalties.
Read the Authorization for limited recreational operations as described in section 44809 (PDF). All limited recreational operations should be conducted in accordance with this authorization.
Changes Coming in the Future
The FAA is upgrading the online system, known as LAANC (the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability), so that recreational operations can get automated airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace.
The new law also requires:
- Drone operators to pass an online aeronautical knowledge and safety test and carry proof of test passage.
- The FAA to issue guidance for how it will recognize community based organizations.
The FAA plans to have all of these features and requirements fully implemented by the summer of 2019.