FAA Bans All Drone Operations Over Large Swaths of U.S. Airspace
NEWS ANALYSIS: A new interpretation of FAA rules results in a complete ban, at least for now, of even the limited ability to fly drones in large areas of the U.S.Drone operations of all types, including unmanned aircraft systems used for commercial, hobby and recreational purposes, have been banned in large areas of the United States under a new interpretation of Federal Aviation Administration rules. While an Advisory Circular issued by the FAA in September announced the rules, the agency only made clear that no-fly restrictions now applied where the rules previously allowed flights under 400 feet above ground level and more than five miles from airports. The circular was sent to the Academy of Model Aeronautics, which has had a long-standing agreement with the FAA that allowed it to operate from established flying areas, including some that are well within the five-mile distance from airports, as long as the activities were coordinated with airport operations and with the FAA controllers at the airport. Now those agreements have been put on hold. Under the new rules, all aircraft regardless of size or type are required to be equipped with a radar transponder and an aircraft radio for communications with air traffic control. Drones and model aircraft don't carry them because the equipment is too large and heavy and requires an electrical system far beyond anything such aircraft could carry.
Previously, operators had to be in contact with air traffic control if they were within five miles of an airport, but that contact didn't need to be via an aircraft radio. Most of the time contact with air traffic control was by phone.