You can no longer fly drones over these DOE facilities

As of Dec. 29, drone flights over seven Department of Energy (DOE) facilities have been banned.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) banned the drone flights  at the request of U.S. national security and law enforcement agencies, using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations § 99.7 – “Special Security Instructions. 

That means drone flights are now banned up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of the following seven sites:

  • Hanford Site, Franklin County, WA
  • Pantex Site, Panhandle, TX
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM
  • Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID
  • Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC
  • Y-12 National Security Site, Oak Ridge, TN
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

This is the first time that drones have been banned over DOE sites.

However, this is far from the first restriction as to where drones can fly. The FAA has placed similar airspace restrictions over military bases that currently remain in place, and in September announced it would ban flights over a handful of historical landmarks managed by the Department of the Interior, including the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore.

Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges, according to the FAA.

The FAA added that exceptions to the rules can be made with special permission from the facility or the FAA.

Not sure if it is legal to fly drones where you are? Check the Know Before You Fly site map, powered by AirMap. Plug in your zip code and the map can tell you if you are in a restricted area.


One Comment

  • My Phantom4 detected a power plant in a National Forest and automatically returned before entering its airspace. Was quite surprised as a) I didn’t realise it was close, b) I didn’t realise the Phantom knew c) it returned all the way back to origin.
    A good thing in my opinion. I knew DJI had cooperated with the Feds, but this was n the middle of nowhere.

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