FAA Adds New Security-Related Areas to No-Drone Zones, Effective February 26th

In a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued on February 15, 2019, the FAA added more defense-related locations and correctional facilities to the growing list of No-Drone Zones.  The additional No-Drone Zones were requested by the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense and become effective on February 26th.  A list of the new locations is available in FAA’s Press Release, available here, and all No-Drone Zones can be identified in FAA’s UAS Data Display System map online or in FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app.

Drone security has become a priority at the FAA.  This month, the FAA released an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) regarding the Safe and Secure Operations of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, seeking public comments on operational requirements and limitations in Part 107 to reduce unanticipated safety and security risks.  Specifically, the FAA is looking for input regarding stand-off distances; altitude, airspeed, and other performance limitations; unmanned traffic management operations; payload restrictions; and critical system design requirements for small UAS.  The ANPRM is available here.   Comments are due on April 15th and the ANPRM gives stakeholders an important opportunity to provide critical data that will shape the future regulatory environment for drones.

FAA is also developing a Congressionally-mandated process to allow certain facility owners or operators to petition the FAA to prohibit or restrict drone operations within close proximity of the facility, including national security sites, critical infrastructure, amusement parks, and other locations that may warrant a restriction.   Although Congress directed the FAA to establish this process by the end of 2016, the FAA’s timetable for the rulemaking is March 2020.

No-Drone Zones have been at the request of government agencies and generally have not been available to private interests.  Those seeking protection from drones should seek assistance to navigate the complex interplay between law enforcement, FAA regulation of national airspace, and private land owner rights.