With the holiday shopping season ramping up into full swing now may be a good time to ask yourself, what don’t you know about drones before you buy one.

Unmanned aircraft systems, also known as drones, have become extremely popular and to many people the next must have item.

Like most emerging technologies the rules and regulations governing use often lags behind its growth in popularity.

Drone use is growing so fast it outpaces the public’s knowledge of the responsibilities that go along with these new toys.

These rules and regulations are constantly being re-evaluated, amended and updated. What applied last year or even last month isn’t necessarily the right way to do things today or even next month.

If you are going to own a drone, it is your responsibility to constantly educate yourself on its proper use.

Before purchasing a drone a little research and education can save you a lot of heartache and possible legal woes. With the rules and regulations for drone use being issued by different agencies and evolving as the use of drones grows, it is the operator’s responsibility to educate themselves in order to fly safe and legal. The bottom line is all nongovernment operated drone use on Redstone Arsenal is prohibited unless specifically authorized and approved by more than one agency.

If you have questions on proper use of UAS operations at Redstone, call the installation air traffic and airspace officer at 876-2186.

Here are a few things you need to know before you buy a drone.

Can I fly a drone on Redstone Arsenal?

No. Recreational drone operations are not permitted on Redstone Arsenal. And all drone operations within controlled airspace off the installation (Redstone Class D or Huntsville Class C) will require a Federal Aviation Administration airspace authorization.

Do I need a license to fly my drone?

Yes. FAA policy puts UAS use into categories depending on who owns it and how it will be used and the qualifications vary accordingly. These categories are Public (e.g. Government), Commercial and Recreational Flyer operations. For more information and guidance on drone use, visit the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems website at www.faa.gov/uas/.

Where can I fly my drone?

As mentioned earlier, the FAA places restrictions on all drone flights in controlled airspace. Redstone Arsenal has an airfield with associated controlled airspace.

The FAA website provides guidance on what controlled airspace is and how to obtain the required authorization.

The FAA “B4UFLY Mobile App” helps recreational flyers know where it is safe to fly. B4UFLY App is available for download from a separate tab at the FAA website.

The FAA authority to regulate airspace and its use is derived from Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations.

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 repealed the special rule for model aircraft and replaced it with new conditions to operate recreational small unmanned aircraft.

The exception for limited recreational operations of unmanned aircraft established by section 349 is codified at 49 U.S.C. 44809.

Recreational flyers must adhere to all eight of the statutory conditions to operate under the exception for limited recreational operation of unmanned aircraft.

Section 44809 can be found at: www.govregs.com/uscode/title49_subtitleVII_partA_subpartiii_chapter448_section44809.

Otherwise, the recreational operations must be conducted under 14 CFR part 107 Commercial UAS operations.

By selecting the “Recreational Flyers & Modeler Community-Based Organizations” tab at the FAA UAS website you can access links to the required aeronautical knowledge and safety test, register as a modeler and learn the proper way to mark your drone with your registration number.

Who regulates drone use and what are some of those regulations?

In addition to FAA regulations drone use on Redstone Arsenal is further governed by the Department of Defense, and Department of the Army.

As you can imagine there can be multiple layers of rules and regulations to navigate before you can legally and safely fly your drone.

The DOD in coordination with the FAA, has established National Defense Airspace over most DOD installations, one of which is Redstone Arsenal.

The FAA utilizing its existing authority under Title 14 CFR Part 99.7 established Special Security Instructions airspace through Temporary Flight Restrictions. Approved SSI locations prohibit all recreational flyers UAS use without exception. All commercial use is prohibited in the SSI unless specifically approved on a case-by-case basis by the Garrison commander in coordination with the Department of Army representative to the FAA. SSI airspace can be found at: https://faa.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=9c2e4406710048e19806ebf6a06754ad.

In addition the secretary of defense has banned all commercial-off-the-shelf UAS use over military installations with limited exceptions (public or commercial UAS with an approved DOD or Army waiver). Again, commercial-off-the-shelf recreational and commercial UAS are prohibited on Redstone Arsenal.

Department of Defense enforcement for unauthorized use of a UAS from within an installation may result in the loss of installation access privileges; potential forfeiture of any unauthorized recordings, photographs or videos; adverse personnel action; and possible criminal prosecution under federal or state law, as appropriate. FAA violations of unmanned aircraft system rules and regulations could result in fines, imprisonment or the suspension of a service member’s license both manned and unmanned.

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