FAA Issues New UAS Airspace Restrictions

Beginning in April of 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began establishing airspace restrictions over military facilities across the country to address national security concerns about unauthorized unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations.  The FAA used its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) § 99.7, Special Security Instructions, to establish these restrictions.

Building on the initial list, the FAA recently announced new airspace restrictions over military vessels and facilities at the request of the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE). These new restrictions address concerns about potentially nefarious UAS over secure maritime operations and apply to all model aircraft or unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The restrictions, outlined in NOTAM FDC 8/2311 and NOTAM FDC 8/2314, begin Friday, October 26, 2018 and will remain in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

NOTAM FDC 8/2314 applies to UAS flights near U.S. Navy (USN) and USCG vessels operating in the vicinity of Naval Base Kitsap in Washington state and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia. UAS operations are required to maintain a distance of at least 3,000 feet laterally and 1,000 feet vertically from these vessels. NOTAM FDC 8/2311 advises UAS operators nationwide to remain clear of DOD and DOE facilities and mobile assets, as well as USCG vessels.

Operators who disregard these restrictions may be perceived as a safety or security threat to these facilities and could face a reaction by security forces that results in the seizure or destruction of their aircraft. Operators may also be subject to enforcement action including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

Additional details and information can be found on these two NOTAMs, and all locations currently covered by § 99.7 restrictions on this interactive map.

For over eighty years, AMA members have responsibly operated model aircraft in the national airspace by following strict safety guidelines. Our history includes a great relationship with the military through partnerships and AMA flying sites and events conducted on military property. To preserve our safety record and commitment to national security and the military, it is important that we all follow the new restrictions. Below are a few answers to commonly asked questions related to these UAS flight restrictions. If you have additional questions or concerns, please contact our government relations team at 765-287-1256 or visit the FAA’s FAQ page.

Q: I fly near, but not on, military property. Am I affected by these NOTAMs?
A: UAS operations are required to maintain a distance of at least 3,000 feet laterally and 1,000 feet vertically from vessels and mobile assets.

Q: Are there any exceptions to the new restrictions? My club flying site or event is located on military property.
A: Base commanders can authorize clubs or events to operate on the facility. In addition to pre-approval from the facility or sponsoring agency, the operation must fulfill all FAA requirements for UAS operations. For example, recreational operators must comply with either 14 CFR Part 101 or part 107; all other UAS operators must comply with 14 CFR part 107, a Section 333 exemption and Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), or a public aircraft COA.

Q:  Does this flight restriction only apply to drones, multirotors, or models with cameras?
A:  The restrictions apply to all model aircraft or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), not just drones, multirotors, or models with cameras. Any model aircraft operator who violates these restrictions is subject to enforcement action.