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FAA expands drone restrictions over federal facilitiesFAA expands drone restrictions over federal facilities

Department of Energy locations off-limitsDepartment of Energy locations off-limits

The FAA is expanding the list of sensitive government facilities where unmanned aircraft operations are prohibited. The agency on Dec. 18 announced the addition of seven U.S. Department of Energy facilities that will become no-drone zones, effective Dec. 29.

This image from the FAA interactive unmanned aircraft data map ( shows the pending drone flight restriction over Los Alamos National Laboratory, among several new no-fly zones for drones that are effective Dec. 29.

The FAA declared more than 133 military installations off-limits to drones in April, and added 10 locations managed by the U.S. Department of the Interior, including national monuments and dams, to the no-fly list for drones in September. Like those previous restrictions, security concerns by law enforcement and those charged with securing federal facilities prompted the agency to request unmanned aircraft flight restrictions.

Pilots should note that the FAA B4UFLY mobile app for airspace awareness may not be updated by the time the latest restrictions take effect Dec. 29. The FAA stated in its Dec. 18 announcement that the app “will be updated within 60 days to reflect these airspace restrictions.” Pilots can meanwhile learn the details by checking the FAA’s interactive unmanned aircraft data map, as well as by checking notams available online and through various flight planning apps.

The FAA noted that this is the first time that Department of Energy locations have been declared off-limits to unmanned aircraft within their charted lateral boundaries. The agency is “considering additional requests from other federal agencies … to support national security and defense, as they are received.”

The locations with new unmanned aircraft flight restrictions effective Dec. 29 include:

  • Hanford Site, Franklin County, Washington
  • Pantex Site, Panhandle, Texas
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico
  • Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, South Carolina
  • Y-12 National Security Site, Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

The FAA is working in other ways to address drone-related security concerns as well, including consideration of rules that would require drones to transmit data allowing law enforcement to identify and track drones in flight.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Unmanned Aircraft, Airspace

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