Local airport policies adapt to growing drone popularity

  • Published
  • By Douglas Cunninghan
  • 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron
The regulations associated with unmanned aircraft systems, better known as drones, are constantly changing in a struggle to keep up with their increasing popularity, availability and proliferation. 

Drone operations now include responsibilities related to that of manned flight and stiff penalties for operators who deviate from those responsibilities.

Like manned aircraft pilots, all drone operators are required to register their UAS aircraft with the federal government. The registration requirement applies to all UAS aircraft that weigh more than .55 pounds which for comparison sake is the same weight as two sticks of butter. Failure to register is a criminal offense and punishable by up to three years in prison and may include up to a $250,000 fine. 

Once registered, operating restrictions apply and it is the onus of the operator to know and understand these restrictions.

One of the most important restrictions for the local area is the airspace restriction.
Drone operators may not fly their aircraft within five miles of the Klamath Falls airport without approval from air traffic control. It is important to note that at this time air traffic control is not approving UAS operations within five miles of the airport without additional FAA approval. 

Failure to operate drones in accordance with federal law will result in criminal prosecution. For more information please visit the Federal Aviation Administration webpage at: http://www.faa.gov/uas/