Welcome to PhantomPilots.com

Sign up for a weekly email of the latest drone news & information

How do you contact airport for <5mi flight in US?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by jahjahwarrior, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. jahjahwarrior

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2014
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    1
    I'm sure a lot of us want to fly less than 5 miles from an airport in the US and it looks like it is perfectly fine as long as you give them advance notice of your flight.

    The airport I want to fly near (4.7 miles away from...so not near, but included in the FAA's expanded rules) is a non-towered airport. How do you deal with that where you live? I'm sure I can bungle around and find a phone number to call, but I'm surprised at how little this topic seems to be discussed.

    I'm also noticing that most of the apps and maps for us mark only the major airports, not these non-towered airports, even though this one receives hundreds of flights a day (granted, it's almost all general aviation, not 737's and such).

    In short I'm interested to hear your experiences notifying a local airport that you are flying, and what kinds of questions or details they ask about to pass on to pilots in the area.
     
  2. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2014
    Messages:
    4,910
    Likes Received:
    1,789
    Location:
    Lost Angeles
  3. joeflyer

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Plymouth, Michigan USA
    That is not required. The current requirement is to stay under 400 ft. if within 3 miles of an airport, yield right of way to and not interfere with full sized aircraft. Here's a link to the AMA Safety Guidelines: https://www.modelaircraft.org/files/105.PDF

    Changing the requirement to contacting an airport if you want to fly within 5 miles is being proposed by the FAA. It was written into the NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rule Making) that the FAA issued earlier this year. Comments on the proposal were due back to the FAA at the end of September. We will not know the outcome until the FAA issues issues its Final Rule, which is due by September 2015.

    The best thing you can do in the meantime is don't fly anywhere near an airport, and don't be bothering airport operators/controllers asking for permission. All we need is a few more reports of "drones" near airports and the final rule could be a lot worse.
     
  4. hemorrhagic flyer

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    0
    There is no requirement to stay under 400ft. It's merely an advisory.

    Big difference.
     
  5. jahjahwarrior

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2014
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    1
    I'm really, really confused.

    The AMA supported/sponsored this website, which says to notify within 5 miles
    http://knowbeforeyoufly.org/for-recreational-users/

    This FAA circular from the 70's says 3 miles
    https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/91-57.pdf

    And here's a webpage from the FAA that claims the new law signed in 2012 says 5 miles
    https://www.faa.gov/uas/publications/model_aircraft_operators/

    All of the news articles I seem to read say 5 miles. Is it really possible that the FAA got a new law signed in 2012 that says they'll publish the real law in 2015 and until then they are allowed to say 5 miles even though really it's only 3 miles?



    Of course, I understand the concerns with flying "anywhere near an airport." But what is near? 4.7 miles away, at 150-200 feet high, I'm just over the tree tops, I don't consider that at all "near" the airport. But, I'm not clear if it's near enough to have to call and notify the airport, or not. And I'm not one to draw attention to myself by notifying them needlessly, because I don't want them thinking people are flying drones "near" airports--I'm sure the airport people think anything within 30 miles is "near" and they are terrified of things they don't understand at all...

    I don't really care at all about the height requirements...I don't agree or disagree with them, but in this instance, flying outside of 3 but less than 5 miles from an airport, I'm not here to try and exceed 400 feet.
     
  6. MacCool

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2014
    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    176
    Location:
    midwest USA

    Some incorrect information here. Model aircraft, as defined by the FAA, currently operate under rules designated in Sec 336 of Public Law 112-95. The definition of "model aircraft" is


    There are no altitude requirements for model aircraft, nor are there any airspace restrictions except for the 5 mile-from-an-airport rule. That says:

    Note that there's nothing about getting "permission". You are required to "notify".

    Now, the FAA's broad-based catch-all, the one they used to hook Anthony Pirker and the one they'll use to fine you $10,000 if you screw up and operate your drone dangerously (in their opinion), is paragraph (b)

    Bottom line....the "regulations" for model aircraft like Phantom drones are scant. It is highly unlikely you'd ever get busted for violating FARs. However, they have wide latitude to get you under paragraph (b) if you do something stupid (in their opinion) and get caught.

    A lot of rumor being propagated about what the FAA says. Most of it that I've seen is incorrect, including the quoted post from Joelflyer.


    One last thing...note that the FAA makes clear that states, counties, municipalities can develop their own set of rules around flying model airplanes, and some have. Additionally, note that if a cop pulls up while you're flying your drone because he's had a complaint or something, even if you're flying safely and correctly within the FAA's guidelines and there are no specific local laws, the cops still have to the old standby "disturbing the peace".
     
    PJHoward likes this.
  7. SteveMann

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    1,977
    Likes Received:
    652
    Location:
    Westford, MA
    The FAA did not bother with an NPRM and comment process as required by law to create new rules. They just decided on their own that 112-95 Section 336 is the new rule. This is why the AMA and a few other organizations have filed suit against the FAA. The only NPRM regarding commercial small UAVs that is in process is currently at the White house for review.

    SEC. 336. SPECIAL RULE FOR MODEL AIRCRAFT.
    (a) (5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator
    of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport
    air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located
    at the airport) with prior notice of the operation…

    What the airport manager will want is the date and time, exact location and maximum altitude you will be flying. Normally the airport manager will issue a NOTAM for the airport users that there will be model aircraft activity below y feet, x miles Northeast (or wherever) of the airport. Four miles away there should be no aircraft below 500 ft, even in the pattern, so if the airport manager wants to be an *******, tell him that Section 336(a)(5) only requires that you notify them, not ask permission.
     
  8. joeflyer

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Plymouth, Michigan USA
    As indicated above there is a lot of confusion and conflicting information regarding this subject. I have been a member of the AMA for over 20 years. They have a legal staff and lobbyists on their payroll who are on top of these issues. I'll accept their advise and guidelines over those of any self proclaimed expert on the internet. Like so many laws, Public Law 112-95 is subject to interpretation. If the AMA's interpretation was that modellers are required notify airports if flying within 5 miles then they would have written that into their Safety Guidelines, published in January 2014.

    Here's what section 336 says:
    As I read those words all it says is that the FAA Administrator cannot make any rules regarding model aircraft as long as 1 through 5 are met. It does not say that someone operating a model is required to do that. Based on the wording in the NPRM it seems that the FAA intends to make that the rule in it's Final Rule due out by Sept. 2015.

    I am not a lawyer nor do I pretend to be an expert on the subject. My take-away is that 5 miles will probably be the rule by September. The main point I wanted to make is that now is not a good time to be flying near airports nor to be contacting airport operators. If there are a few more drone/airport incidents in the news the final rule may be much more restrictive.
     
  9. BigW25

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2014
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Minneapolis Suburbs (or just outside anyway)
    I live about 3 miles from one of those fly in neighborhoods. I see the planes from it over my neighborhood all the time. Do I let the airfield know? As long as I adhere to the 400 ft ceiling and they stay above their 500 ft floor, everyone should be safe and happy, but I do not want to be on the news because one of them sees me flying below them and perceives a threat.
     
  10. jahjahwarrior

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2014
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    1
    Well, finally got around to planning a flight in between two airports, 1.8 miles south of one and 3.7 miles north of another. There are a few places I want to fly around them and I picked one to start with.

    Looked up contact information for both airports and called the closer, bigger one, it's one of the three big airports in South Florida.

    Nice guy answered the phone, told me "I've heard of those drone thingies and that you aren't supposed to fly them by airports but this is the first time someone has called about them so...let me ask my supervisor." 2 minutes later, he gave me three phone numbers to call--Lockheed Martin pilot service, and two numbers for the local tower directly. He wished me luck, and I called the Lockheed Martin center.

    Nice guy there answered and I went through the same spiel--"trying to comply with FAA guideline to notify airport controller if flying closer than 5 nautical miles" and he had to go talk to his supervisor.

    They transferred me to another guy and after the same spiel, he asked me if I needed to issue a NOTAM. I had to laugh and admit to him that I was just complying with the FAA guideline and I had no clue if that needed a NOTAM, but repeated that I would be flying between 0 and 400 feet AGL, 1.8 miles south of one airport and 3.7 miles north of another. He sounded like he was typing something into a computer or consulting a guide, and he said that did need a NOTAM.

    He took about 3 minutes to fill out the NOTAM and read it back to me, asking me to confirm the times I would be flying, and the radius from the center point. The way the NOTAM reads, it only references the closer airport and gives a point and radius, and pilots from both airports will receive it as it's a regional flight service line.

    He also told me to google lockheed martin pilot log but creating an account there, it looks like it's only useful for pilots making flight plans.

    They do have a section for UAS but it only lets you continue if you have a tail number. The man on the phone did ask me if I had a waiver but I explained it was recreational use and he had no issue filling out the NOTAM.

    Great practice, now I'm prepared to file a few more for future flights. I don't really plan on flying near airports much, this flight is not in line with any runways and I'm very familiar with the area, there is no air traffic overhead there, I get more planes flying over my house! But as long as the process is simple, there are several places that are now open to me to fly nearby, and I was pretty impressed with now easy the guy at the lockheed martin place made it!


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Narrator

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2014
    Messages:
    347
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    And readers from elsewhere, note that the rules are likely very different.
    Here in Australia, within 5.5km (3nm), you have to get CASA approval and airport management approval.
    I learned that for anything other than film and TV use, approval may take a week or two, but for film and TV they do it much quicker.
     
  12. IflyinWY

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2014
    Messages:
    3,470
    Likes Received:
    939
    Location:
    Where the deer and the antelope play
    This is how I do it.

    Call and find out when the airport manager will be there. Visit with the manager and ask him/her if your intended flight(s) will be a problem.

    It's not always as complicated as some folks think. Got 2 minutes to read my post? viewtopic.php?f=52&t=30187&hilit=+thermopolis

    Enjoy ;)
     
  13. alexdds

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2016
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    0
    what is a NOTAM? this sounds too complicated. Did they ask for your name etc...? or can you just do this anonymously. Also what if you use your drone to do 24/7security surveillance above your property which happens to be within 5 miles of airport? How does this affect the time? So you don't have to keep calling every day. What if you just want to take the drone up to do a quick aerial selfie??? The process needs to be simpler.
     
  14. Mark The Droner

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2015
    Messages:
    3,960
    Likes Received:
    1,156
    Location:
    Brookeville, MD, USA
    This is an old thread and much of the info is outdated. See AC 91-57A released last September. It will answer your questions, I think.
     

    Attached Files: