The scourge of the sky returns and this time things have gone nuclear…in a sense.
New regulations from the FAA have signaled out 7 different nuclear power facilities across the continental United States for restricted airspace rules pertaining to drones, declaring a 122 km radius no-fly zone around the power plants.
The power plants impacted by the new FAA regulations include the following:
– Hanford Site, Franklin County, WA
– Pantex Site, Panhandle, TX
– Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM
– Idaho National Laboratory, Idaho Falls, ID
– Savannah River National Laboratory, Aiken, SC
– Y-12 National Security Site, Oak Ridge, TN
– Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN
The sites listed are all nuclear facilities but not all are currently active nuclear sites according to DP Review.
The 122 km no-fly zone for drones around the nuclear power plants was issued at the request of the US Department of Energy (DOE). The new regulations will come into full effect on December 29, 2017 in what the FAA is terming UAS National Security restrictions.
Just in case you wanted to fly a drone near one of the above sites there are some exceptions to the restrictions if granted prior approval, though these rarefied cases were not detailed.
With the increasing prevalence of drones flying near aircraft and all kinds of restricted space, it really is a no brainer that the FAA would designate these nuclear sites as forbidden areas for drone pilots.
One thing that is noteworthy is the speed at which the desire to regulate this once untamed industry is taking pace.
It is difficult to say where we will be in one year or even several years down the road, but it is safe to say that the Wild West days of drone ownership in the United States and elsewhere are coming to a close. It was fun while it lasted! At least some of us can say “I remember the day when you could fly a drone near a commercial aircraft, heck, even a nuclear power plant! You kids have no idea.”