Drones, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) represent the future in so many different ways. For both the professional and amateur operator, UAS are fun and interesting to fly, but come with some very real responsibilities. There have been a number of close calls between aircraft in flight and UAVs. Most have involved someone unfamiliar with airspace restrictions flying a UAS too close to an airplane in flight. A collision between an aircraft and a UAS (even a small one) could spell disaster, and possibly result in loss of life. This is why all segments of the aviation industry are encouraging all UAS operators to become aware of their responsibilities.Here are some guidelines for safe operation of a UAS:
First, register your UAV with the FAA
This is required by the FAA. Visit the FAA’s website www.faa.gov/uas/registration for more information.As federal regulations on UAS are still evolving, it’s critical to stay up-to-date on the latest developments. Registration allows the FAA to provide UAS operators with new information as it becomes available.
Second, know where the airports are.
It is the UAS operator’s responsibility to contact the airport and air traffic control tower any time you fly within 5 miles of an airport, with an Air Traffic Control Tower. Residents of Arlington must be concerned with three airports – Arlington Municipal, Grand Prairie Municipal and DFW Airport. Click here for a map showing the 5-mile radius for each airport.The FAA has released an app “B4UFLY”, available for Apple devices that can be downloaded from the Apple App Store. B4UFLY tells users about current or upcoming requirements, pinpoints restricted airspace, and identifies areas where UAS operators may want to fly. A beta version of “B4UFLY” for Android devices can be downloaded from Google.
Third, plan your flights, and make the required notifications
Operators must provide notice to the airport and the air traffic control tower at all airports within 5 miles of the UAS’s planned operation. Airports and/or air traffic control towers may deny UAV flights, if the flight poses a safety risk. Please have the following information available:
- Location of Operation
- Phone Number
- Closest Major Intersection
- UAS Registration Number
- Duration of Operations
- Description of UAS (Weight/Type)
- Maximum Operating Altitude
- Date and Start Time
Arlington Municipal Airport 7:00 am – 4:00 pm M-F
Airport Administration 817-459-5570
Air Traffic Control 817-459-5562
Airport Administration 972-237-7593DFW Airport* 24/7
Airport Administration 972-973-3112
Air Traffic Control 972-615-2509 *UAS operations within 5 nautical miles of the DFW International Airport will normally not be permitted.
Finally, understand the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) authority
The FAA regulates all aspects of aviation in the United States, including UAS. The FAA’s authority extends from licensing aviation professionals to operating the nation’s air traffic control system (ATC), responsible for safely separating all aircraft from each other when they fly, to regulating every aspect of airport operation. The airspace above your home, your business, or even the local park, is under the jurisdiction of the FAA.Just as pilots of aircraft carefully follow FAA regulations, so must UAS operators. UAS are a relatively recent phenomenon, and the FAA is still developing the rules they’ll use to determine how drones can safely share the same airspace as commercial, private, and military aircraft. Check the FAA’s website frequently for changes on how and where owners are allowed to legally fly their UAVs. Remember, violation of federal regulations may result in severe penalties.
- Register your UAS.
- Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles.
- Keep the UAS within visual line of sight at all times.
- Remain well clear of, and do not interfere with, manned aircraft operations.
- Don’t fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying.
- Don’t fly near people or stadiums.
- Don’t fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 pounds.
- Don’t be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft.
- Don’t fly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- The FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems page
- The FAA’s page regarding hobbyist/model aircraft usage
- Know Before You Fly.org