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News & Notes

FAA Warns Drone Pilots to Avoid Areas Hit by Hurricane Matthew

Ground your drone so emergency responders can do their job

October 6, 2016

The FAA issued a preemptive statement this afternoon warning drone operators not to fly above areas affected by Hurricane Matthew. This storm is set to hit Florida tonight and has killed at least 113 people in three Caribbean countries, according to CNN.

Drone flights have halted emergency efforts in the past, including several incidents during wildfire firefighting efforts this summer. It is illegal to interfere with disaster response efforts and any drone operator, including hobbyist or unsanctioned commercial pilots, found interfering is subject to civil penalties of up to $32,140 per violation and possible criminal prosecution.

If you’re itching to help in emergency response situations such as this one, there are appropriate channels to follow. According to the FAA statement:

UAS or drone operators supporting disaster response operations must be approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prior to operating. Operators may seek approval by following these steps:

  • The operator must secure support from a governmental entity, and the operation must directly contribute to the response, relief, or recovery effort.
  • After completing step 1, the operator must contact the FAA’s Systems Operations Support Center (SOSC) at 202-267-8276 for assistance.
  • After calling the SOSC, the operator must also send the request via email to 9-ator-hq-sosc@faa.gov.

  • If you’ll be in any of the areas likely to be impacted by Hurricane Matthew, don’t fly your drone without the proper FAA approval. Stay safe out there.
    Featured image: NASA