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Airport Operator's Guide to UAS

Anyone operating a UAS (drone) under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, part 101, must notify the airport operator prior to the operation.   Commercial operations conducted under part 107, are not required to notify the airport operator, unless the airport is located in class B, C, D, or surface class E.  In which case, the operator must obtain an airspace authorization from ATC. 

The operator of the UAS is not asking for permission, but rather fulfilling the requirement to notify the airport before commencing operations. The airport operator may object to the operation if they feel that the UAS will endanger manned aircraft operations in the airspace surrounding the airport. If the airport manager does so, they should have specific reasons, and be able to show how the UAS operation would be considered a “careless or reckless” operation.

It is recommended that airport operators work with pilots of UAS to coordinate their flight operations. Working with UAS operators makes the airspace ultimately safer for manned aircraft, and encourages UAS operators to coordinate with airports before operating.

The following is a list of questions, that at a minimum, the airport manager should ask:

  • Name of person(s) operating the UAS
  • Contact information for the Remote PIC
  • How can the Remote PIC be contacted during the flight operation? Cellphone number?
  • Make, model, and most of all, registration number on aircraft.
  • Ask if the operation will be conducted under Part 107 (commercial operation) or Part 101 (hobbyist), or if they have a 333 exemption or COA.
  • If your airport is located within the surface area of class E, D, C, or B airspace, ask to see a copy of their airspace waiver. (If your airport is located in class G airspace, no waiver is necessary)
  • Remind them to also coordinate with ATC tower if one is located on your airfield.
  • Where exactly will the flight be conducted? (Direction and distance from the airport?)
  • At what altitude will the operation be flown? (400 ft. AGL or below)
  • Date and time of flight operation?
  • How long will the operation take place?

Once again, permission to operate on or near an airport is not needed from the airport operator. But by asking the above questions, and gathering as much information about the operation as possible, we can help keep everyone on the ground and in the sky safe.

This form (Drone checklist) may be helpful for tracking drone operations near your airport