Flying a drone in the NY/NJ area between now and August 20th could land you in deep trouble.
The USA has a 30 mile no fly zone that exists around The President at all times. This has been in force for many years, but two factors are making this a much bigger problem today:
- The number of people affected has greatly increased.
In the past, the only people affected were pilots. Part of their training includes understanding airspace restrictions (and how to find out about them). But with the dramatic increase in drones, the number of people affected has increased exponentially.
- The current President spends a considerable amount of time in highly populated areas.
President Trump owns land in New Jersey (for summer) and Florida (for winter) which are located in highly populated areas. His regular visits to these places tend to shut down operations for a significant number of people.
NY/NJ No fly zone in effect from August 4th to August 22nd
If you are in the red zone above then you are not allowed to fly unless you have received permission from the FAA, which is pretty unlikely. If you are using a modern DJI drone on the latest firmware then you will likely find that it will not let you take off. You can check for flight restrictions using the excellent AirMap website and application which can be found here: app.airmap.io
While I understand the need for security around the POTUS, this does cause a lot of problems for commercial drone operations.
This is at least the 4th time that this particular zone has been shut down and in each case, I had to cancel flights scheduled with clients, some as far away as PA. For one client the 3rd time was just too much and they told me “Don’t worry, I think we have found another option.” which I interpreted as “Don’t worry…we have found someone that doesn’t care about the regulations and is not FAA certified.”
Considering that the FAA has punished almost no-one for these types of infractions, I can’t blame them either. They have a business to run, marketing to get out and the photographs must be taken in the summer months when the property is looking its best. They can’t wait forever.
The unintended consequence here is that the FAA is literally pushing work away from those people that have spent the time and money to become FAA certified and into the hands of that that ignore the regulations. And the problem with unintended consequences is that they are still consequences.
Clearly, the system needs an overhaul. My UAVs can’t fly anywhere near 30 miles without running out of battery. More importantly “bad actors” tend not to follow the rules anyway, otherwise you could stop bank robbers by putting signs on the doors says “No guns allowed.”
But until that overhaul happens, I will continue to educate myself, follow the rules to the best of my ability and hope that the situation improves before people realize that the Part 107 Certification is actually a hindrance to running a commercial drone business.