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No Local Airspace Rules for Drones

Reminds localities that agency is sole authority on airspace

December 23, 2015 – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reminded local governments that they cannot establish their own airspace regulations regarding operations of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones and RC model aircraft, over their communities.

In a fact sheet released late last week, the FAA reiterated that it is the sole authority on navigable airspace within the National Airspace System. Cities, towns, counties, and states cannot establish unilateral rules on drone operations, just as they cannot create regulations regarding manned aircraft operations.

“This reminder from the FAA is important because the emergence of UAS technology has made some municipalities eager to create independent laws covering such operations. They simply can’t do that,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “It’s also important for FAA to restate its authority over the National Airspace System to prevent a patchwork of rules that could develop from local governments. Such local measures on UAS operations could quickly become mission creep into regulations on manned aircraft flights, which is not under local authority.”

EAA remains dedicated to ensuring all manned aircraft have priority over UAS within the National Airspace System. Additionally, EAA strongly contends that no airspace restrictions for manned aircraft should be created as a result of UAS integration and no new equipment for manned aircraft should be required outside of existing mandates.

The FAA this week also opened its online registration website for small UAS. The final rule is the result of a fast-track effort by DOT and FAA to create a “culture of accountability” within the recreational unmanned aircraft community. 

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