For the first time, the FAA will restrict UAS flights near ten US Department of Interior (DOI) landmarks. These landmarks are the latest locations added to the FAA's UAS no-fly zones, which include other security sensitive airspace, restricted or special use airspace, military facilities, airports, stadiums during certain sporting events, national parks, and areas near wildfire firefighting operations.
At the request of US national security and law enforcement agencies, the FAA and DOI have agreed to restrict drone flights within 400 feet of the lateral boundaries of the following sites:
- Statue of Liberty National Monument - New York, New York
- Boston National Historical Park (USS Constitution) - Boston, Massachusetts
- Independence National Historical Park – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Folsom Dam - Folsom, California
- Glen Canyon Dam - Lake Powell, Arizona
- Grand Coulee Dam - Grand Coulee, Washington
- Hoover Dam - Boulder City, Nevada
- Jefferson National Expansion Memorial - St. Louis, Missouri
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial - Keystone, South Dakota
- Shasta Dam - Shasta Lake, California
The airspace restrictions are effective October 5, 2017. Operators who violate these restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges. There are a few exceptions that permit UAS flights within these airspace restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA.
To ensure that the public is aware of these new restricted locations, the FAA has created an interactive online map, and a link to these restrictions will be included in the FAA's B4UFLY mobile app.
These new restrictions are significant because this is the first time FAA has used its authority under 14 CFR § 99.7 to restrict UAS flights over DOI landmarks. Further, half of these landmarks are dams, possibly reflecting concern about unauthorized UAS operations near utilities and critical infrastructure.
Finally, in its announcement of the new restrictions, the FAA noted that "it is considering additional requests for federal agencies for restrictions using the FAA's § 99.7 authority as they are received," suggesting that the FAA may not be done adding to the list of UAS no-fly zones.
Find out more about these restrictions by contacting either of the authors.