After Federal Aviation Administration regulations went into effect limiting the use of drones in the area, at least 36 amateur drone clubs in Washington D.C. found themselves closed down as part of a no-fly zone.
The area has been under discussion in regards to drones as a possible threat to national security for several years, but shut downs only began in late December. A 15-mile no fly zone surrounding the National Airport was increased to 30 miles in September. The zone, called a “Special Flight Rules Area,” affects clubs that fly far outside the city, some of them in suburban Maryland or Virginia.
Clubs were notified through the Academy of Model Aircraft (AMA), of which 14 of the clubs were members. The FAA’s guidelines from September made flying a drone in a 30-mile radius of the city illegal, the FAA told the AMA. An email from the manager of the FAA’s special operations security group, Brian Throop, warns against “some individuals [who] may be flying inside the SFRA even though they know it is in violation of the current airspace restrictions.”
The clubs then spread the word themselves, including the information that the FAA may reopen the clubs in mid-January.
The AMA’s Ray Stinchcomb said in an email that law enforcement could be used to make sure the drones stay on the ground, even though the AMA and FAA may work together to make special guidelines for organized drone clubs.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense