CHATHAM – The airport commission has updated its website about unmanned aircraft systems – drones – to ensure that the correct information is available the devices proliferate.
“We just wanted to put it out there,” said commission member Huntley Harrison. Information previously on the website was outdated, he added, and while there weren't many changes, the group felt it was important to ensure that the town was providing the most current versions of drone regulations, which can be something of a moving target.
“I think the rules are still changing a bit,” he said.
Since drones don't have to be registered locally – although both hobbyists and commercial operators must register with the Federal Aviation Administration drones weighing more than a half pound – Harrison said there's no way to tell how many drones there are locally. The only interaction officials have with drone operators is through the airport. Under FAA rules, anyone operating a drone within a five-mile radius of an airport must notify the airport that they will be flying their device.
Chatham Municipal Airport's location means that all of Chatham – and parts of Harwich, Orleans and Brewster. Harrison said a smartphone app called B4UFly allows drone owners to check if they are within an area that requires airport notification. Failure to do follow that regulations or any other federal regulation regarding drones can result in civil fines of up to $27,500 and criminal penalties or fines of up to $250,000, according to the information posted on the commission's website.
There are much more stringent rules for commercial drone operators than for hobbyists, including a “Part 107” certificate. Find out more at www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/.
Most of the complaints received about drones are for noise, Harrison said. The calls are referred to the police. If the operator has not notified the airport, penalties could ensue.
Most of the drone regulations follow common sense, Harrison said. Operators must keep drones within sight at all times; the device must not endanger persons or property on the ground; and they must fly no higher than 400 feet and give way to and not interfere with manned aircraft.
For more full drone regulations, visit knowbeforeyoufly.org. To register a drone, visit registermyuas.faa.gov.