NAS Jacksonville: Flying drones near federal facilities is prohibited

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JACKSONVILLE – The use of unmanned aircraft systems, commonly called drones, has risen in recent years.

In the past year alone, more than 1.7 million drones have been registered with the Federal Aviation Administration. The total hobbyist fleet is expected to reach four million drone operators by 2021.

As a result, drone operators must be aware of the changing restrictions on the use of drones in public places and on federal lands. To ensure the safety and security of Naval Air Station Jacksonville assets and personnel, drone operations within a five-mile radius of the base and a three-mile radius of Outlying Landing Field Whitehouse must be coordinated with the base’s air operations department and FAA. In order to operate a UAS on a Navy installation, authorization from the commanding officer is required.

The use of drones from within the installation is unauthorized and may only be permitted by the commanding officer in accordance with the installation’s instruction, applicable law, and FAA requirements. Flying drones for recreational purposes can be a lot of fun but it can also be dangerous. All drone pilots must thoroughly understand the rules and safety precautions where they fly. First, check with base operations and FAA. Never fly near ships or other aircraft, always ensure you know the latest policies and rules, and never fly over groups of people.

Other rules for recreation flyers include:

• Register and mark drone

• Fly drone only for recreational purposes

• Fly at or below 400 feet above ground level

• Obtain authorization before flying in controlled airspace

• Keep drone within visual line-of-sight (LOS)

• Do not fly at night unless lighting allows for maintaining LOS

• Give way and do not interfere with manned aircraft

• Never fly over any person or moving vehicle

• Never interfere with emergency response activities

• Never fly under the influence

• Do not operate drone in a careless or reckless manner

To help drone users safely operate their aircraft, the FAA has published guidelines regarding recreational drone use at https://www.faa.gov/uas/ and https://udds-faa.opendata.arcgis.com. They have also created the B4UFLY app to help pilots safely operate their drones by providing

no drone zones around your GPS location. It also provides a flight planning function so drone users can ensure a safe and successful flight.

The Department of Defense supports civilian law enforcement investigations and the prosecution of unauthorized UAS operations over military installations. Operators who do not comply with FAA guidelines can be charged by the U.S. Government with criminal violations, civil penalties and have FAA certificates or authorizations revoked to operate unmanned aircraft. The DOD may also take security actions that result in the interference, disruption, seizure, damaging, or destruction of unmanned aircraft considered to pose a safety or security threat to protected DOD assets. For more information on drone operations aboard the installation, contact Lt. Greg West at Gregory.T.West@navy.mil. To report suspicious activities, contact the NAS Jax watch commander at (904) 542-3222.

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