Every day, the market for unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAV), or drones, is exponentially growing; that’s because their applications have become seemingly endless. There is, of course, its recreational use. Hobbyists, amateur drone operators, and travel vloggers who capture footage of their trips using drones are part of the recreational crowd. Aside from this, drones can also be used for other business and commercial purposes. For instance, they can be used in media and filmmaking as a way to easily capture aerial footage. They can also be beneficial to the industrial and agricultural sectors. They can help farmers take inventory of their crops as well as identify failing plants early on. In the industrial sector, they can prove helpful in construction and engineering projects, especially those that will involve a lot of survey work. Finally, drones are also crucial in the service industry, especially in the emergency response services and delivery. They provide an opportunity to deliver needed medical supplies to stranded victims or people in remote areas, especially in areas where a helicopter can’t easily enter.
However, the extreme and widespread popularity of the UAVs also prompted legislative parley over their pros and cons. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published the 14 CFR Part 107—Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems in 2016, which stipulates the terms and conditions of drone usage within the United States soil and airspace. However, the FAA guideline is loose and the federal response lags behind, which forced states, cities, and towns to enforce local ordinances.
2019 Drone Laws in New York State
The state of New York is one of the top destinations of tourists and locals, the majority of whom think that the state’s drone laws aren’t as rigid as the others’. But it’s actually hard to tell where to fly in-state, especially when there are other local ordinances related to drone regulation.
You might think it is easy enough to fly a drone in New York state, but that’s not actually the case. The following are some reasons why:
1. The state is densely populated. It is home to New York City, which is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Its other areas are also thickly populated, though to a slightly lesser level. With all those people living in the state, it can be hard to comply with the FAA’s flying over people rule, which specifically states that you cannot fly over people unless they are involved in the drone operation themselves.
2. Some areas of New York is categorized as Class B airspace. This category is for those areas that have big airports with control towers and expansive runways. Both LaGuardia and JFK are under this category. In these areas, it is just not possible to fly a drone within them unless you acquire permission or authorization from the Air Traffic Control (ATC).
3. The third reason is because of some of the drone laws that exist in New York state that put certain limits as to how and when and where you can fly drones.
It is important to note that the state and local governments are prohibited from creating ordinances, in fear of passing pieces of legislation that are contradictory to the rules applicable to small UAVs. Thus, it has been established that the FAA’s drone code is the sole legal document that regulates the use of drones.
Generally, a drone pilot has requirements to meet should they want to fly a drone in New York. The requirements vary with every drone purpose.
The aircraft must be registered with the FAA, and the operator must follow the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.
The aircraft must be registered with the FAA, the pilot must be an FAA-certified drone pilot, and both aircraft and pilot must observe the rules declared in Part 107.
The government can act as civil operators (governed by regulations of National Airspace System) or public aircraft operations (through part 107 of FAA). For the latter, a Certificate of Authorization (COA) must be acquired.
When operating beyond the provisions of the FAA, the pilot operating the UAV must request a Part 107 Waiver to deviate from the rules.
Local Drone Laws in New York
Although contradictory ordinances are not permitted, FAA reiterated that states and cities can still regulate takeoff and landing sites within their territorial boundaries. This is to ensure public safety.
The city of Syracuse, for example, banned the use of UAVs for government purposes until sufficient federal and states laws are promulgated.
Other than that, New York City has limited recreational flying of drones to a few designated parks:
- Calvert Vaux, Brooklyn
- Marine Park, Brooklyn
- Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens
- Forest Park, Queens
- La Tourette Park, Staten Island
In addition, the FAA holds the prime duty to enforce penalties such as suspension of pilot certificates, conducting civil proceedings, and a fine up to $200, 000 upon violating any provisions in Part 107. However, when a pilot’s negligence also results in violations of criminal statutes, litigation based on constitutional, state, or local laws may proceed.
Currently, the FAA proposes new amendments in order to fill the loopholes of the existing drone code. The proposed amendments include the allowance of drone pilots to operate at night and over people without securing a waiver. Once in place, this will also serve as drone laws in New York state.
The Registering Process in New York
Now that you know about the drone flying laws in New York, you will need to register your drone so you can legally fly it while you are in the state. At present, all UAS owners are required by the FAA to strictly follow their regulations and laws. To start the process, you will first need to provide your name and home address as well as your email address.
From there, you will be given a Certificate of Aircraft Registration and Proof of Ownership. Such certification will indicate a unique identification number for your drone. You should have this number, which will be valid for a period of three years, clearly displayed on your aircraft at all times.
The registration bylaws state that all drones that weigh between more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (25 kilograms) should be registered; this stated weight range includes any additional payloads, like an onboard camera.
There is also an age limit as to who can register; you must be thirteen years old and above. Also, since December 21, 2015, all drones, whether they are bought or assembled, must be registered before they are made to fly. The entire registration process is a paper-based one, but you also have an online option.
Proximity to Airports
Another important rule you must keep in mind is that you are allowed to fly your drone within a five-mile distance from any airport, according to the Modernization and Reauthorization Act. This particular law requires hobbyist drone operators, meaning recreational and amateur operators, to get in touch with airport management or air traffic control if they are operating within that distance.
This rule was set in place so that unsafe drone operations can be disapproved before the aircraft can even be launched. Once you get in touch with the proper authorities, you are made to answer a few questions; your answers to those questions will determine whether it is safe or unsafe to fly your drone in that area.
Protecting Your Drone
A drone is an important investment, and so you must adhere to all relevant laws regarding drone operations or else you risk having your drone be confiscated by the authorities. This applies not just when you’re in New York but also in other states.
Protecting your drone also requires that you take care of when and how you fly it. For instance, your own common sense will tell you that you shouldn’t be flying your aircraft during stormy weather. You also shouldn’t let it fly too far away from you to the point that it would be difficult to recover it. Finally, when it is not in use, make sure that you store it in a clean and dry place. Don’t keep it in places that attract a lot of moisture.
Another thing you can do to keep your drone secure is to invest in a GPS drone tracker. Such a device will be helpful in preventing flyaways as it will instantly locate and track the exact whereabouts of your aircraft using GPS technology. It also has a geofencing feature, wherein you can input certain geographical boundaries for your drone. The moment your aircraft ventures outside of those boundaries, you are instantly alerted through an app you can access on your smartphone.
Locating your drone quickly in cases when it has flown away or gone beyond your line of sight is important as you don’t want to risk it crashing into a tree, building, or any similar structure. A GPS tracker can help you locate and recover your aircraft in no time at all.
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