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At the request of U.S. national security and law enforcement agencies, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations § 99.7 – “Special Security Instructions” – to address concerns about unauthorized drone operations over seven Department of Energy (DOE) facilities.
The FAA and DOE have agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of these sites:
- Hanford Site, Franklin County, Washington;
- Pantex Site, Panhandle, Texas;
- Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico;
- Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, Idaho;
- Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, South Carolina;
- Y-12 National Security Site, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and
- Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
The airspace restrictions are shown in an FAA Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and the details about where drone flights are restricted are available here.
These UAS National Security restrictions are pending until they become effective on Dec. 29, 2017. 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.
To ensure the public is aware of these restricted locations, the FAA has created an interactive map online. The link to these restrictions is also included in the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app. The app will be updated within 60 days to reflect these airspace restrictions.
Additional information is available on the FAA’s UAS website.
Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.
This is the first time the agency has placed specific airspace restrictions for unmanned aircraft over DOE sites. The FAA has placed similar airspace restrictions over military bases that currently remain in place, as well as more recently issued UAS flight restrictions over 10 Department of Interior facilities, including several large dams and iconic landmarks.