Drones used for commercial or recreational purposes have new no-fly restricted areas as directed by the Department of Defense. All unmanned aircraft is banned from flying within 400 feet of a select list of U.S. military facilities.
Effective April 14, 2017, DOD has updated its list of 133 military facilites where drone flights are now strictly prohibited. The FAA and the Department of Defense have agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of these 133 facilities. Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and felony criminal charges - even jail time. These new restrictions will be constantly enforced, unlike temporary restrictions put in place for special events or natural disasters.
Some of the new restricted areas, such as Air National Guard facilities, have a small range, but larger military sites have restricted areas that range for miles. Also, areas that may look uninhabited enough for drone flight, such as military target ranges, are now off limits.
An attorney for a coalition of companies that want to make or use drones said the language of the restriction is broadly written and may be used to apply to other types of facilities besides military installations.
As in most things legal, if a drone operator unknowingly flies an aircraft into one of these new restricted areas, the operator still faces penalties. To check the newly restricted areas, click on the FAA's interactive map If you’re feeling unsure about whether you’re about to launch a drone in a No Drone Zone, the FAA has an easy-to-use smartphone app called B4UFLY. It lets you see whether you’re standing in a place that has airspace restrictions.
Drones weighing less than 0.5 pounds are exempt from the new FAA rule.