I received this email this week from NCDOT regarding recently implemented drone laws:
A pair of laws regulating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS, or ‘Drones’) in North Carolina became effective today, Dec. 1, 2017.
Session Law 2017-179 prohibits drone use near prisons, jails and any other correction or confinement facility. Near is defined as a horizontal distance of 500 feet or a vertical distance of 250 feet. Signs will be placed around facilities to remind drone users of the boundaries. Penalties range from a fine of $500 to $1500, and include confiscation of the aircraft. This law contains exceptions for law-enforcement officers and emergency responders. There are also exceptions for commercial operators who are completing a commercial mission near the prison. Commercial operators are only limited to 150 feet vertical and 150 feet horizontal if completing a commercial operation. The commercial operator exception includes public utilities.
Session Law 2017-160 revises existing state drone laws. The language of the law has been changed to clarify that UAS laws will now apply to model aircraft as well. Model aircraft users are still exempt from the state’s permitting requirements.
The revisions also loosen restrictions on the use of UAS in emergency management. The law permits emergency management agencies to use drones for all activities related to emergency management and removes the restriction on the use of special imaging technology. The use of technologies such as thermal and infrared was previously only permitted for scientific purposes. The removal of the restriction allows private and commercial operators to assist law enforcement with emergency management efforts such as search and rescue operations.
Please take the time to read the full text of both laws to familiarize yourself with these new regulations by which you must abide.
The UAS Knowledge Test Study Guide has been updated to reflect these changes and is available on the N.C. Division of Aviation website, along with information on how to ensure you are compliant with current regulations.
For me personally, I am excited about the change in regards to the law about helping Law Enforcement. Several months back I was able to show some local officers the power of thermal imaging and the ability of seeing in the woods at night. No question it was a game changer- we just couldn’t make it work because of the law. Now, maybe we can put something together that will be helpful to them…