Are drones legal in NYC? Short answer: Yes, long one: It dipends, there are some regulations to be followed…
It’s no surprise that drone flights have become quite the trend in the modern day, where YouTube personalities have all resorted to a drone to capture beautiful, aerial images and make HD videos from high altitudes as part of their vlogs.
The use of drones for various personal, commercial and military purposes has been on the rise lately, and the FAA has reported a registration of 770,000 drones in 2017 alone. As a result, drone incidents have increased. Recently, the NYPD has been on the lookout to hunt drones flying over in New York City.
The rising drone incidents in NYC
The incidents related to drones in New York City have prompted the police department to take matters into their hands. One of the many incidents reported a drone hitting a window of the Empire State Building, while in another similar incident, a drone went straight into a helicopter flying over Staten Island. In another incident, a drone whirring over the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was confiscated by the NYPD and prompt action was taken. The drone belonged to a father and son, who intended to play with the newly bought toy.
In addition to these incidents, CBS has reported that many drones have collided and smashed across the five boroughs in the city, and action against drone flight has become inevitable. NYPD’s Aviation Unit has set up daily tracking and monitoring of illegal drones in the skies. Every day, there are at least 10 of these unmanned aerial aircrafts that are confiscated.
Illegal drone use in NYC
NYC has seen a rise in the illegal use of drones by 68 percent since 2016. As reported by NBC New York, pilots have come across more than 192 illegal drone flights in restricted airspace during 2017. But what has caused such a rise in drone possession and flight?
The increased affordability, popularity and lower prices have made drones a much-needed obsession for most. The unfortunate thing is that drone owners simply fulfill their wants without adhering to the FAA rules and regulations. Many drone owners do not register their UAVs as required by their state or city laws. As a result, accidents become more prevalent, and restrictions become even more stringent! In NYC, an illegal drone flight is interrupted by the NYPD’s Aviation Unit in a matter of 8-12 minutes.
NYC drone laws
Let’s discuss the various drone laws laid down by the state, federal and local authorities and what they entail.
These laws have been formulated by the New York State Assembly and are applicable to the entire state of New York. These laws are as follows:
- All drone pilots who intend to engage in commercial flights in the state of New York must adhere to FAA’s Part 107 rules.
- These pilots are required to obtain a certification from the FAA as well as a commercial drone license.
However, as per the New York Department of Transportation, there are no specific laws regarding the operation of drones in the city.
These drone laws have been laid down by the federal government and are applicable to all states, including New York:
- Commercial pilot: Commercially flying a drone for work and business purposes must meet the requirements laid down by the FAA’s Part 107 Small UAS Rule. One must clear the aeronautical knowledge test and obtain a remote pilot certificate.
- Hobbyist: If you intend to fly a drone for fun, it must be registered with the FAA and the Special Rule for Model Aircraft must be adhered to.
- Government employee: In order to fly a drone for the police or fire department, you ought to follow the rules identified under FAA’s Part 107 and obtain the Certificate of Authorization.
These laws apply to certain regions, cities, and countries. Local laws are made and implemented by the state. According to the New York City Restriction, it is illegal to fly drones in NYC. Moreover, people who spot drones flying over the city skyline have been instructed to call 911 immediately. This is not actually a law but a policy that the city seems to have adopted against drone flights.
Permitted areas to fly a drone in New York
According to the preceding policy, drone flying can be considered illegal in NYC if done in places other than the designated areas. The following model aircraft fields are open for flying a drone:
- Calvert Vaux
- Marine Park
- Flushing Meadows Corona Park
- Forest Park
- La Tourette Park (Greenbelt)
Moreover, the FAA does not permit flying a drone within the 5-mile radius of any airport. If you do need to fly close to an airport, you will first need to clear it with the airport management or air traffic control. However, if you intend to fly elsewhere within NYC, you must abide by the local laws adopted across the city. Otherwise, your drone is most likely to be confiscated by the NYPD.
Drone registration process in NYC
According to the FAA rules and regulations, a drone owner needs to give their name, address, and email address for drone registration. They will then be issued a Certificate of Aircraft Registration along with a Proof of Ownership. The identification number of the aircraft must be displayed on the drone, which remains valid for 3 years from the date of issuance.
Registration is allowed for aircrafts that weigh between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds, nothing more or less. This weight limit is inclusive of the weight of the camera. Lastly, you ought to be 13 years old or older to own and register a drone.
If you are a registered drone owner, you ought to abide by the laws specified by the FAA regarding drone operations and flight. Also, keep in mind that it is illegal to fly drones anywhere in NYC other than the designated areas. As for drone flight in designated parks, you ought to follow all rules, depending on which category you fall into – commercial, hobbyist or government employee.
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