The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is implementing changes for recreational drone flyers mandated by Congress in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
While recreational flyers may continue to fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace without specific certification or operating authority from the FAA, they are now required to obtain prior authorization from the FAA before flying in controlled airspace around airports. Furthermore, they must comply with all airspace restrictions and prohibitions when flying in controlled and uncontrolled airspace.
The new requirement to obtain an airspace authorization prior to flying a drone in controlled airspace replaces the old requirement to notify the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower prior to flying within five miles of an airport.
Until further notice, air traffic control facilities will no longer accept requests to operate recreational drones in controlled airspace on a case-by-case basis. Instead, to enable operations under the congressionally-mandated exception for limited recreational drone operations, the FAA is granting temporary airspace authorizations to fly in certain “fixed sites” in controlled airspace throughout the country. The fixed sites are listed online and will be routinely updated.