What are the rules for flying drones?

Hampshire County

As drones continue to grow in popularity, it’s important to know the rules and regulations.

More people are buying drones than ever before, and it’s predicted that within the next year, millions of people will have drones. Drones have been around for more than two decades, and their popularity continues to rise.

A report by the Federal Aviation Administration says that sales of recreational drones are expected to grow from the 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020.

“I imagine that considers all categories from little toys that people fly in your backyard to the more capable drones that can go long distances,” said Vinnie Melling, Assistant Manager at the Northampton airport.

Vinnie administers the written test, which you need to pass in order to fly your drone for commercial use.

You must fly at or below 400 feet when in uncontrolled airspace. Flying a drone near airports also has its rules. You cannot fly within a 5 miles radius of an airport, but that’s for large airports with a control tower. The regulations for smaller airports, like the one in Northampton are different.

“Northampton airport, we don’t have a control tower here, so the requirement is that a drone pilot needs to contact us, and we get a fair amount of phone calls. Once you get into more complex airspace like Westfield the rules get stricter.”

The FAA has maps that show the 5-mile radius restrictions in cities and town. Westover Airport and Westfield-Barnes show the drone restriction in red. However, move up to Northampton airport and they just require a phone call.

If you do plan on flying a drone, you’ll also need to register your drone with the FAA.

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