ST. PAUL, Minn. — Planning on buying or receiving a recreational drone this holiday season? The Minnesota Department of Transportation offers some guidelines for operators of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems or drones) to keep them and the people in the area of their UAV safe.
“Flying recreational drones can be fun. However, operators are responsible for the safe use of their UAV and for the safety of people who may be unaware a UAV is near them,” said Rick Braunig, MnDOT aviation safety and enforcement manager. “For instance, if that UAV has mechanical or control problems, it could go out of control and seriously injure innocent people or do damage to public and private property.”
Braunig said drone operators should follow these guidelines to ensure public safety:
- Contact the airport or control tower if you are within five miles of an airport.
- Stay within an approved operational area. UAV should not be flown above populated areas, sporting events or your neighbor’s backyard.
- Do not fly in adverse weather conditions or low visibility.
- Operate only during daytime hours and within line of sight. No binoculars, no moving vehicles. Use an observer, if necessary.
- Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below surrounding objects.
- Fly more than 25 feet away from vehicles, boats, buildings or people.
- Avoid manned aircraft. Land if one comes within the vicinity.
The Federal Aviation Administration estimates that as many as a million drones will be sold this 2015 holiday season. The agency cited more than 650 incidents this year where aircraft pilots encountered UAVs while in flight.Under Minnesota law, registration is not required for unmanned aircraft operated solely for recreational use. However, drones used for commercial purposes must be registered with MnDOT Office of Aeronautics. For more information, go to www.mndot.gov/aero/drones/, or contact Rick Braunig at 651-234-7230.