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  • Charl Jooste

New Developments in Drone Authorization Applications

Image: FAA

Drone flight restrictions have been in place for some time now and requests for airspace authorization is a time-consuming, cumbersome process.

In order to simplify and speed up the process, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will be releasing maps detailing areas and altitudes near airports where UAS may operate safely. This is the first time such detail will be available in a comprehensive, clear format such as this.

Map release dates:

The maps are due to be released on April 27. The maps will assist drone operators with detailed information and help them to improve their application of their Part 107 airspace authorization requests. It will also assist the FAA in processing these applications and will speed the process up.

The maps will available for download in a variety of formats and can be found at They can be viewed on mobile devices and operators will be able to customize their view.

By making use of the maps, drone operators will have greater clarity and information that will assist them in completing airspace authorization applications. They can structure their application to comply with the locations and altitudes indicated on the maps as suitable for small UAS operations. This will give the process more clarity and make FAA approval more likely for the applicant.

The maps do not mean that unrestricted areas are automatically authorized flight zones and do not guarantee approval. They are purely for informational purposes. Operators are still required to apply for airspace authorization. This is done online at

The maps are to be released in phases starting on April 27. The first release will cover around 200 facility maps. The full project with all arrears completed is expected in 2 months.

Any questions regarding this process should be sent to the FAA’s UAS Integration Office on or by dialing 844-FLY-MY-UA.

Federal Aviation Administration

Developers and other stakeholders will be able to access data from an FAA-enabled web service known as the FAA UAS Data Delivery Service.

Information can be found at Data will be available in an umber of formats including Shapefile, KML, CSV and JSON.

The aim of the FAA is to allow for innovation and growth with new applications and opportunities in the UAS field. They are striving to make the process faster and easier for operators. At the same time, they have to take the safety and efficiency of the aviation industry as well as military and other sensitive areas into consideration.

What are the UAS flight restrictions?

Flight restrictions on all unmanned aircraft system (UAS) have been created in the space around sensitive facilities and apply up to 400 feet above ground level (AGL) over these areas. The restrictions apply at all times, 24/7.

What are the consequences of contravening the restrictions?

Failure to comply with the restrictions without the necessary authorization means that the U.S. Government may pursue criminal charges, including charges under Title 49 U.S.C. § 46307. Apart from that, the FAA could take administrative action which includes imposing civil penalties and revoking FAA certificates and authorizations to operate UAS under Title 49 U.S.C. §§ 44709 and 46301.

What are the exceptions with regards to operating a UAS in these restricted areas?

If the following criteria are met, operators will be allowed to fly within the TFR:

Pre-approval by the facility contact based on criteria determined by the sponsoring federal agency in coordination with the FAA.

Flights conducted in direct support of an active national dialing, firefighting, law enforcement, homeland security, search and rescue, or disaster response mission. Prior notification must be given to the designated facility contact.

Flight operations conducted in direct support of a significant and urgent governmental interest that has been approved by the FAA's System Operations Support Center (SOSC) in advance of entering the TFR.

For more information, visit the FAA's UAS website.

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