While large chunks of the U.S. are seeing blanket, no-nonsense restrictions on flying recreational drones, even enthusiasts of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the federal area of Washington, D.C. are not immune to the Federal Flight Administration's (FAA) new policy. The government agency announced on Dec. 25 an expansion of its "no drone zone" by about 30 miles, all within the metropolitan sector.
Before the FAA's crackdown, UAVs were permitted to operate under 400 feet above ground-level in designated areas — as long as they were at least five miles from surrounding airports, where it is more likely for incidents to occur.
More problematically, the FAA also called for all aircraft, regardless of size, to be furnished with a radar transponder, as well as an aircraft radio for the purposes of communicating with air traffic control staff in the area for additional safety precautions. The problem? Drones are rarely able to handle such extensive equipment, mostly due to their comparatively rudimentary systems.
All in all, the newly-extended zones are are still contingent upon some pretty strict rules and restrictions. An administration spokesperson from the FAA reached out to eWeek via email on the new conditions:
"Unmanned aircraft, including model aircraft, are 'aircraft' and are subject to FAA rules. No aircraft is allowed to fly inside the Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) unless it complies with the published airspace security requirements. All aircraft flying in the Washington, D.C., SFRA are required to squawk a discrete beacon code and maintain continuous radio communications with air traffic controllers. Aircraft that cannot meet these requirements are prohibited from operating within the SFRA without specific authorization."
Via: Digital Trends
Photo: Richard Unten | Flickr