Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones)

Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drones

The Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment regularly monitors the activities of the FAA's Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) regarding Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or "Drones". For the latest information regarding UAS, please visit the FAA's UAS Integration Office (AFS-80).

To apply for a TSA airspace waiver for either manned (helicopter/plane) or unmanned (drone) aerial photography, go to the TSA "General Aviation - Airspace Waivers" application page.

DC National Capitol Region Airspace

The National Capital Region is governed by a Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) within a 30-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which restricts all flights in the greater DC area.

The SFRA is divided into a 15-mile radius inner ring and a 30-mile radius outer ring.

Flying an unmanned aircraft within the 15-mile radius inner ring is prohibited without specific FAA authorization.
  • Flying a UAS for recreational or non-recreational use between 15 and 30 miles from Washington, D.C. is allowed under these operating conditions:
  • Aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (including any attachments such as a camera)
  • Aircraft must be registered and marked (if it is not operated exclusively under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, pending NOTAM change)
  • Fly below 400 ft.
  • Fly within visual line-of-sight
  • Fly in clear weather conditions
  • Never fly near other aircraft

The airspace around Washington, DC is more restricted than in any other part of the country. Rules put in place after the 9/11 attacks establish "national defense airspace" over the area and limit aircraft operations to those with an FAA and Transportation Security Administration authorization. Violators face stiff fines and criminal penalties.


UAS Integration Pilot Program


FAA Restricts Drones over Statue of Liberty, Other Landmarks



UAS Smartphone App

The FAA has now launched an easy-to-use smartphone app, B4UFLY that helps unmanned aircraft (drone) operators determine whether there are any restrictions or requirements in effect at the location where they want to fly.

UAS/Drone Registration

The FAA's new online drone registry system is live! If you or someone you know has a drone, please register it now.