Unmanned Aerial Systems, commonly referred to as drones, are certain to be a popular holiday gift again this season. Those giving and receiving drones should be aware that they are no longer allowed to be flown on Kirtland.
Drones have become one of the most recent technological successes within the commercial realm. Formerly, they were allowed at Zia and Pershing parks. However, due to an almost overnight explosion of popularity, thanks in part to affordability, many agencies have been working diligently to adjust policy to ensure the safety of those operating the systems and everyone else. Below is the most up-to-date information and policies regarding UAS:
• The Federal Aviation Administration has released instruction which identifies Kirtland AFB, including Maxwell housing, as restricted air space for UAS of any size or weight. UAS cannot be operated for unofficial use on base. Taxiways and runways associated with Albuquerque Sunport have been included within this restriction.
• Kirtland has the capability to detect and track UAS when operated on Kirtland AFB and Maxwell housing. In accordance with DoD policy and to protect operational security, security personnel may take action to remove UAS when detected.
• The FAA has also restricted flight of UAS within five miles of any active runway, unless contact is made and approval is gained by the appropriate tower.
• Official use of UAS has been approved; however, operators must first follow the steps provided in Kirtland AFBI 13-212 Range Planning and Operations. For more information regarding the official use of UAS on Kirtland, contact Plans and Programs at 853-5295.
• Any UAS weighing between .55lbs (250g) and 55lbs (25kg) are required to register through the FAA. More information can be found at www.registermyuas.faa.gov/.
If you have a reason to commercially operate a UAS, the FAA has required all commercial pilots to possess a Part 107 license. Information and requirements for obtaining your Part 107 can be found at www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/fly_for_work_business/.
As fun and useful as these little systems are they can, unfortunately also be harmful. Listed below are some guidelines for safe operation of a UAS in approved locations.
• Propellers for these systems are sharp and rotate at a high rate of speed. Many commercial models do not come with propeller guards, leaving propellers exposed. The can and will cut anything that touches them and operators should be aware of their surroundings.
• Do not operate a UAS overhead of people or animals and avoid areas which video capabilities could be construed as an intrusion of privacy.
• Know the capabilities of your UAS and of yourself as the operator. Know and understand the return home function of your UAS, or the lack of this function.
Further information and safety tips regarding the flight of drones can be found at https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/fly_for_fun/. All Kirtland AFB specific information can be found in KAFBI 31-101 Integrated Defense Plan.