By U.S. Navy photo by Javier Chagoya [Public domain]

The FAA continues to add restrictions to drone flight over sensitive locations, as federal departments ask for more limitations.

“At the request of the Department of Defense, and federal security and law enforcement agencies, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations § 99.7 – “Special Security Instructions,”” says the FAA release – to address the potential threat posed by malicious drone operations by establishing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) specific airspace restrictions over select, national security sensitive locations.”

The language used in the notice reflects the fears expressed by DOD and other agencies that drones may provide a chink in the security of national facilities.  The flight restrictions are in effect 24 hours a day, and the FAA says that violators may be subject to civil penalties and criminal charges.

Operators can find a list of currently covered locations on the FAA website.  “This linked FAA website provides an interactive map, downloadable geospatial data, and other important information,” says the FAA.

In response to recent requests by federal agencies, the FAA is establishing new or modifying existing restrictions on drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of the following four sites:

  • Naval Support Activity Monterey, Monterey, CA (new)
  • Naval Air Station Kingsville, Kingsville, TX (new)
  • Naval Support Activity Orlando, Orlando, FL (new)
  • Naval Support Activity South Potomac, Indian Head, MD (boundary change)

These changes, which have been highlighted by FAA NOTAM FDC 8/9176, are pending until they become effective on June 1.

The FAA says that “there are only a few exceptions that permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA.”

This list is by no means final – operators can expect more facilities to be added.  “The FAA is continuing to consider additional requests by federal agencies for UAS-specific airspace restrictions using the FAA’s § 99.7 authority as they are received,” says the notice.  “Additional changes to these restrictions will be announced by the FAA as appropriate.”