File photo A plane flies over a drone during the Polar Bear Plunge on Coney Island in the Brooklyn borough of New York Jan. 1, 2015.
Although it seems unlikely that the daily drone hobbyists would like to make a beeline for their nearest nuclear facility to grab a number of aerial photographs, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has nevertheless announced a ban on drone flights over such locations in the U.S., namely:
• Hanford Site, Franklin County, WA
• Pantex Site, Panhandle, TEXAS
• The Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, NM
• Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID
• Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC
• Y-12 National Security Site, Oak Ridge, TENNESSEE
• Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TENNESSEE
As you can see, they are mainly labs, while the Hanford Site, for example, is a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex. One of the aforementioned, the Pantex Site, is an active nuclear weapons assembly and disassembly plant. The restrictions, which come into effect on December 29, insert “in response to the concern about unauthorized drone operations across seven Department of Energy (DOE) facilities,” the FAA confirmed on its website.
It added that “operators who violate airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement, including potential civil penalties and criminal prosecution.”
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The FAA ban follows others in recent years as the government plays catch-up with a technology that has become enormously popular with consumers over the last few years.
After an FAA regulations earlier this year a ban on drone flights over 133 military facilities in the U.S., the Pentagon said over the summer that it would be OK for the personnel and the facilities to destroy drones flying in restricted areas as they were considered a security threat. In other words, they can shoot the flying machines down.
Further gradual broadening of the restrictions, the FAA then issued flight bans around 10 famous tourist attractions, including the Statue of Liberty in New York City, the Hoover Dam in Nevada, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota.
Flights in the vicinity of locations such as airports, prisons, and stadiums are also off-limits for drone pilots.
Millions of people are likely to be the firing of their first-ever drone about the holidays, and the FAA is encouraging them to download the B4UFLY mobile app (iOS and Android), that provides information about flying safely as well as areas that are outside the boundaries for drone flights. The FAA also has an extensive FAQ page on its website with advice for your current and new drone owners.
Finally, if they have not already done so, drone owners must register their details on a national database. The database has been in place for two years, but mandatory registration was interrupted in May about a legal matter. But since last week, it is now necessary for anyone with a drone with a weight between 0.55 pound and 55 pound again to send their data through the FAA’s registration page.