Drones are illegal in certain places in the US. Flying any kind of drone near an airport, in a national park, or close to any other location that the FAA has deemed a NoFlyZone is illegal. This blog looks at the different aspects of whether you can use a drone in the US, and why you should think twice before flying one.
The use of drones in commercial space is skyrocketing. But, with rapid growth and development, a lot of confusion and questions about the legal use of drones have surfaced. In this blog, we will look at the legality of drones, who can operate drones, and whether you need a license to fly drones.
Are Drones Illegal in the US?
If you’re in the US, and you’re wondering if your drone is legal or not, you’ve come to the right place! This guide on whether drones are illegal in the US covers every single detail about drone laws, from registration to drone weight limits to flying locations and more. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have all the information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not owning and flying your drone in the US is legal.
What are drone laws in the US?
According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules, drones cannot be flown above 400 feet, near airports, or within a five-mile radius of any airport. This includes most major metropolitan areas across America.
States and localities can restrict drone flights with laws that are more restrictive than FAA guidelines, but those laws can’t make those restrictions more strict. However, even if you follow all of these regulations, there is still a chance that someone might report your drone as a potential threat and have it taken down by law enforcement officials because they made mistakes about what is legal and what isn’t.
If you want to fly legally in America—whether you’re using commercial or recreational drones—we recommend checking out The Academy of Model Aeronautics’ website for additional information on flying safely.
Is it illegal to own a drone?
This depends on whether you are talking about a drone that is used for commercial or recreational purposes. The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) prohibits commercial drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs) from flying in navigable airspace—that is, within 5 miles of an airport without prior permission from air traffic control.
With few exceptions, recreational drone flights aren’t regulated by federal laws. So as long as your flight occurs far away from busy airports and above 400 feet (the height at which manned aircraft fly), you are generally allowed to fly anywhere you want if it isn’t over private property.
Can you fly drones at night?
The FAA currently prohibits flying drones at night. When asked about whether they were allowed to fly at night, an FAA spokesperson directed Quartz to a document that reads: A person may not operate an aircraft in controlled airspace under IFR [instrument flight rules] unless that aircraft is equipped with a functioning certified anti-collision light system.
In other words, only daylight flights are allowed for now. If you need to fly your drone late at night and can’t wait until morning, you might be able to take it up for a test flight outside of controlled airspace—but you’ll have to figure out on your own if it’s safe enough to fly.
How far can you fly a drone?
The FAA has set no height limit, so theoretically you could fly your drone into space. But if you’re not flying your drone for fun or work, it’s best to abide by these laws: In most states, recreational use of drones is allowed up to 400 feet above ground level and within line of sight.
For commercial use, you will need to apply for a certificate from either a state or federal aviation authority (depending on your business). The FAA issues Section 333 Exemptions that allow operators who meet certain criteria to operate a UAS for commercial purposes without getting an airworthiness certificate. Those operators must also follow specific guidelines about how high they can fly, how fast their drone can go, and where they can fly.
Can I fly a drone over buildings?
In order to fly a drone over buildings, you need to be within 400 feet of a structure that’s taller than 400 feet and have an observer in your aircraft. The purpose of having an observer is for public safety: If there’s an accident, then someone will be able to provide information about what happened. In addition, if you’re within 5 miles of an airport or heliport and using your drone, you’ll also need authorization from air traffic control.
If you’re in the US, and you’re wondering if your drone is legal or not, you’ve come to the right place! This guide on whether drones are illegal in the US covers every single detail about drone laws, from registration to drone weight limits to flying locations and more.