FAA restricts drones over federal prisons, Coast Guard bases

June 7, 2018  - By
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established temporary unmanned aircraft system (UAS) flight restrictions over federal penitentiaries and U.S. Coast Guard bases.

The restrictions, which take place June 20, are for drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of the facilities.

The restrictions came at the request of federal security partners the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The FAA is using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) § 99.7 — “Special Security Instructions” — to address concerns about drone operations over these facilities,” the agency stated.

Information on the FAA Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), which defines these restrictions, and the covered locations, can be found on the FAA’s UAS website. Broader information regarding flying drones in the National Airspace System, including frequently asked questions, is also on the FAA website.

An interactive map, downloadable geospatial data and other important details can be found here.

A link to the restrictions is also included in the FAA’s B4UFLY mobile app.

This is the first time the FAA has placed specific flight restrictions for unmanned aircraft over Federal Bureau of Prisons and Coast Guard facilities. The FAA has placed similar flight restrictions over military installations that remain in place, as well as over 10 Department of Interior facilities and seven Department of Energy facilities.

Operators who violate the flight restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

There are a few exceptions that permit drone flights, which must be coordinated with the individual facility or the FAA.

The FAA is considering additional requests by eligible federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using the agency’s §99.7 authority as they are received. Additional changes to these restrictions will be announced by the FAA as appropriate.

The following facilities will have the new restrictions:

United States Penitentiaries (USP)

USP Tucson near Tucson, AZ
USP Atwater near Atwater, CA
USP Victorville near Victorville, CA
USP Florence High near Florence, CO
USP Florence ADMAX near Florence, CO
USP Coleman I near Sumterville, FL
USP Coleman II near Sumterville, FL
USP Marion near Marion, IL
USP Terre Haute near Terre Haute, IN
USP Big Sandy near Inez, KY
USP McCreary near Pine Knot, KY
USP Pollock near Pollock, LA
USP Yazoo City near Yazoo City, MS
USP Allenwood near Allenwood, PA
USP Canaan near Waymart, PA
USP Lewisburg near Lewisburg, PA
USP Beaumont near Beaumont, TX
USP Lee near Pennington Gap, VA
USP Hazelton near Bruceton Mills, WV

United States Coast Guard (USCG) Bases

USCG Baltimore Yard, MD
USCG Base Boston, MA
USCG Base Alameda, CA
USCG Base Los Angeles/Long Beach (LALB), CA
USCG Base Elizabeth City, NC
USCG Base Kodiak, AK
USCG Base Miami, FL
USCG Base Portsmouth, VA
USCG Base Seattle, WA
USCG Operations System Center (OSC) near Martinsburg, WV

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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