The Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) announced on September 28, 2017, that at the request of U.S. national security and law enforcement agencies, it is using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) §99.7, entitled “Special Security Instructions” – to address concerns about unauthorized drone operations over ten (10) U.S. Department of the Interior (“DOI”) sites, including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore and four (4) U.S. dams.
The FAA and DOI have agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of the following sites:
- Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY
- Boston National Historical Park (U.S.S. Constitution), Boston, MA
- Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA
- Folsom Dam; Folsom, CA
- Glen Canyon Dam; Lake Powell, AZ
- Grand Coulee Dam; Grand Coulee, WA
- Hoover Dam; Boulder City, NV
- Jefferson National Expansion Memorial; St. Louis, MO
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Keystone, SD
- Shasta Dam; Shasta Lake, CA
The restrictions became effective on October 5, 2017. 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.
Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.
This is the first time the agency has placed airspace restrictions for unmanned aircraft, or “drones,” over DOI landmarks. The FAA has placed similar airspace restrictions over military bases that currently remain in place. See http://uas-faa.opendata.arcgis.com/
The FAA is considering additional requests from other federal agencies for restrictions using the FAA’s § 99.7 authority as they are received.
All of the above sites are managed by the National Park Service directly or, in the case of the four dams, managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, whose parent agency is the U.S. Department of the Interior.