Saturday, February 11, 2017

Updated: Fairhope Drone Use Safety Scrutinized

Fairhope, Alabama

UPDATED: The Fairhope Police Department has now posted drone guidelines on their Facebook page -- click.    Here is video of the drone in the picture: click.

 Over the 'tree lighting' ceremony last November


The city's Airport Authority is working with the police department to develop a policy about drone operation: actually the Federal Aviation Administration's responsibility, but since it lacks adequate manpower local law enforcement often assists.

A growing number of incidents and crashes have been reported around the country -- click.

Drones have been used here to photograph events like parades and the tree-lighting, but sometimes not according to the federal regulations adopted by the FAA last Summer.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, unmanned aircraft systems or drones must weigh under 55 pounds and may be operated only in daylight hours and not over "unprotected people."

Operators must obtain proper certification and must be positioned to view the drone at all times ('visual line of sight" only) at a maximum altitude of 400 feet and ground speed of 100 mph.

Operation in protected airspace (under control of air traffic controllers) requires permission from the local ATC; most of the city of Fairhope is protected class 'E' airspace over an altitude of 400 feet.

Waivers to the rules can be applied for under certain circumstances; regulations differ for commercial vs. recreational use.

Just as with pilots of aircraft, drone operators assume all liability if an accident occurs resulting in damage to property or persons on the ground.

Drones must be registered with the FAA before flying -- click.

The Sonny Callahan Airport is located about three miles southeast of the center of town (Section Street at Fairhope Avenue).


When completed, the Airport Authority will post a chart of proper drone operation on its website, according to a committee member.

*see the update at top of page.

See the FAA's website for immediate details -- click.


The FAA only regulates flight safety: privacy matters depend on individual state laws which are mostly weak or lacking altogether -- click.

A task force was appointed in 2015 by Alabama's Governor Bentley to study the issue, but nothing has come out of it yet according to media reports -- click.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The owner of that drone in thje picture has good connections in city hall dont he ?