On April 7, 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) published a Notice to Airman (“NOTAM”), effective April 14, 2017, prohibiting the operation of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) over one hundred thirty-three military facilities to an altitude of four hundred (400) feet. In issuing the NOTAM, FAA is relying on its authority located in 14 C.F.R. § 99.7 to address national security concerns.
Despite this general prohibition, FAA has carved out certain exceptions pursuant to which UAS flights over the military installations may be permitted. Specifically, each UAS flight operation must:
- Have been pre-approved by the designated military facility contact based on criteria jointly established by the Department of Defense and the FAA; or
- Be conducted in direct support of an active national defense, homeland security, law enforcement, firefighting, search and rescue, or disaster response mission, and prior notification must have been provided to the designated military facility contact; or
- Be conducted in direct support of a significant and urgent governmental interest with prior approval from FAA’s system operations support center; and
- Comply with all other applicable federal aviation regulations.
To ensure the public is aware of these restricted locations, the FAA has created an online interactive map. The link to these restrictions will also be included in the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app – the app will be updated within sixty (60) days to reflect these airspace restrictions. Additional information, including frequently asked questions, is available on the FAA’s UAS website.
Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.