UAV flight safety is a dominant Federal government concern as it pursues the national policy favoring integration of drone technology into mainstream life and commerce. The FAA UAV test sites conduct research and assist projects aimed at defining the appropriate protections that the public requires for safe and effective drone operations.
FAA drone test sites perform research and investigate issues concerning safe operations over populated areas and in proximity to manned aircraft. The FAA has established a system to regulate the complex instances of restrictions and prohibitions on drone operations in the National Airspace. The five below-described places ban drone flights due to safety concerns.
Under the authority of federal law, the FAA has prohibited all flights, every day, 24 hours per day in areas established under UAS NOTAM FDC 7/7282. The terms of the restriction cover an area from the ground up to 400 feet Above Ground Level. AGL means above ground or any structure attached to the ground. In the event of flying around a structure, the rule permits an altitude of 400 feet above the structure for UAVs that fly within a 400-foot radius of the structure.
TFRs can change frequently, and pilots must check the current list of restricted areas. TFRs sometimes connect to special events such as a Presidential visit or the UN General Assembly. The TFR Website provides information to pinpoint the TFRs in a specific area.
Restricted Airspace includes Washington, DC. The nation’s capital has a 365 day per year 24-hours per day restriction on drone flights. It is a No Drone Zone.
Special use airspace covers a variety of restrictions. Special use space is an area in which an activity must be confined such as a test area for military weapons. The limitations in such areas apply to UAVs that are not part of the special use. The FAA uses several labels to indicate special use airspace including the below -listed categories.
Drone operations are prohibited from one hour before and ending one hour after a listed sporting event. The list includes the below-itemized categories. The rule prohibits drone operations with thee nautical miles of these sporting event venues.
Wildfire operations may use drones in an official agency capacity. Operating drones in or around a wild firefighting operation is unlawful.
Airports have special status because of manned air flights, radar controls, and emergency takeoffs and landings. Recreational UAV operators may operate near airports but must give notice for flights within five miles to the air traffic control tower and the airport operator. The FAA classifies the airspace around major airports as Class B airspace, and UAV flights may not proceed without air traffic control permission. The FAA has issued one waiver to date for a drone flight in Class B airspace.
FAA UAV test sites perform research that can support critical decision points on the journey towards full integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The FAA drone test sites collect data on trends and form an ideal community with government regulators and stakeholders to promote drone safety and technology.