FAA releases new drone-operation regulations for D.C. area

A drone
A drone | Contributed photo

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently updated its procedures for flying unmanned aircrafts, or drones, in the area between 15 and 30 miles of Washington, D.C.

The updates serve to clarify the range of differences between drone varieties. As of this week, commercial, model and public aircraft users must fly only within the outer ring and within the specific conditions of the Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA).

Unmanned aircrafts present a significant safety concern for aviation officials, so the SFRA banned unmanned aircrafts within 15 miles of the city. They must remain inside the Flight Restricted Zone, 15 to 30 miles from the city, if they do not have unique authorization from the FAA.

With the new rules, recreational and hobbyist drone operators are only allowed to fly aircraft weighing under 55 lbs. This weight includes attachments, such as cameras.

The aircrafts must be marked and registered if they fly in the restricted zone. The operating conditions include flying 400 feet or less above the ground, flying in clear weather, remaining within the line of sight of the operator and avoiding other aircrafts.

If anyone plans to operate a drone within five miles of an airport or heliport, the new laws also require the operator to alert the airport, heliport and the air traffic control tower, if one exists.

Commercial and other non-model aircraft operators must notify the FAA an hour before operating to provide specific flight information.

Public operators -- including federal, state or local governments -- also must register and mark their drones, get FAA permission to operate and follow the aforementioned one-hour notification protocol.

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U.S. Federal Aviation Administration

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