Commercial drone pilots are expected to know the drone flight restrictions that pertain to the area they are operating in. This is a constantly changing landscape, and all pilots should keep their information up-to-date to avoid potential fines and liability. The most recent of these restrictions prevents unmanned aerial system flights around specific national landmarks.
The drone flight restrictions covering these locations came into effect on October 5th. They prevent flying within the boundaries of the following landmarks, up to 400 feet;
These locations are specifically restricted due to their status as an interest to national security. The rules are similar to those already in place for military bases, except that a special permit can be obtained directly from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The National Park Service banned the operation of drones in 2014, on all land under the jurisdiction of the NPS. Permits are issued based on strict criteria, and are generally awarded for scientific research and law enforcement purposes. This blanket ban prevents the flight of drones around several other national landmarks.
The Golden Gate Bridge is bordered entirely by national parks. Therefore, a special permit must be obtained from the NPS to fly from either side. The penalties for flying without a permit are high – six months in jail and a fine of $5,000.
While a hobbyist may have no knowledge of the drone flight restrictions in place around landmarks and national parks, it is essential that the commercial pilot pay close attention. Ignorance of the law is never an excuse, and violating this airspace could likely result in the suspension or revocation of their license.