FAA Bans Most Drone Flights Near Bases


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a new safety instruction pertaining to drones. It is aimed at curtailing unwanted flights of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) near military installations. Under the guideline, unauthorized UAS, or drones, cannot fly within 400 feet of the lateral boundaries of 133 military facilities. The policy took effect April 14.

Though the FAA and Defense Department have been mulling such a policy for a while now, this is the first action of its kid that actually limits drone flights based on national security interests. Drone pilots can apply for exceptions, but they will be limited.

“There are only a few exceptions that permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA,” the agency stated in announcing the new policy. “Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges,” the FAA stated.

The agency plans to include information related to the drone restrictions on its interactive map within 60 days of issuing the new guideline. It will be accessible through its web site, www.faa.gov.

Meanwhile, industry is hard at work, trying to develop systems that would neutralize unwanted intrusions by drones. Raytheon Corp., for example, has upgraded its Patriot Air Missile Defense System with an enhanced radar array — capable of seamless, 360-degree tracking of objects in the sky.

SRC Inc., has developed a counter-UAS system called Silent Archer, which combines radar, electronic-warfare gear and a three-dimensional user display. The company states that the system can “detect, track, classify and identify the airborne threat,” and neutralize it by jamming the signals between the aircraft and its operator, at a relatively low cost. The system has proven itself against both lone targets and swarms of UAS in tests, SRC claims.