Drone Laws and Regulations

Admin UAV Drones

A drone is sometimes referred to as an unmanned aircraft system, or a UAS.

The obvious is apparent; there is no human pilot on board the actual aircraft itself. Instead, it is operated from the ground. According to the Consumer Technology Associations article in early January of 2017, drones are one of the six “emerging technology” categories in sales. (Others included the Smart Home, Digital Assistant Devices, 4K Ultra High-Definition, Virtual Reality, and Wearables.)

Calculated sales predictions for drones in 2017 are estimated at 3.4 million individual units, which will amount to $1 billion in revenue and 46% increase.

The sales hit record totals back near Christmas according to the Washington Post, selling 1.2 million units. The Federal Aviation Administration openly and clearly states on the beginning of their website under UAS, “When you fly a drone in the United States it is your responsibility to understand and abide by the rules.” One of these simple regulations is registering your drone. Drones under .55 lbs. do not require registration by the FAA. Anything above this must be registered.

The FAA boasts on their website that you can, “Fill out the Drone Registration Application in less than 5 minutes.”

Fines for breaking drone regulations are generally between $400-$5,500. There have been a few exceptions and outliers. The biggest fine ever imposed for flying a drone was when the FAA fined the company SkyPan International a grand total of $1.9 million. Reported October 6, 2015 by USA Today, the FAA sought after this sum because SkyPan “endangered safety by flying scores of flights over some of the country’s most congested airspace over New York and Chicago.”

Allegedly, SkyPan flew 65 unauthorized flights between March 21, 2012 to December 15, 2015 while lacking the proper “certification and registration” for the flights. Another man was charged $1,100 for accidentally landing his drone on The White House lawn. The FAA particularly mentions on their “Where to Fly” page to “Understand the serious restrictions in flying in and around Washington D.C.” There is a 30-mile radius around the Ronald Reagan Washington International Airport. This is divided into two 15-mile zones.

There is a clear do not fly policy in the first 15 miles unless authorized by the FAA.

The second 15-mile zone regulations mention the UAS cannot be over 55 lbs. (including all attachments), can only fly in clear visibility, in sight of the operator, below 400 ft., and never near another aircraft. The FAA also has safety guidelines on their website. The list starts off simple, reminding people not to fly an UAS above 400 feet and to keep the drone within sight at all times.

Then the list proceeds to identify five never’s of flying an UAS:

· Never fly near airports or other aircraft
· Never fly over people (this one is important)
· Never fly over stadiums or sports events
· Never fly near emergency response teams such as firefighters
· Never fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol

On the other side of things, it is illegal for somebody to shoot down a drone, regardless if it is flying above their private property.

For shooting down a drown, a person can be charged with a felony.