OLD BETHPAGE, NY - SEPTEMBER 05: A drone is flown for recreational purposes as an airplane passes nearby in the sky above Old Bethpage, New York on September 5, 2015. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America
Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

FAA to require approval to fly drones in controlled airspace around airports

The Federal Aviation Administration says it will require people flying recreational drones to get approval before flying in controlled airspace around airports.

There are large swaths of metro Atlanta that are in controlled airspace, because of air traffic control towers not just at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport but also at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, Fulton County’s Charlie Brown Field, Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Kennesaw’s McCollum Field and Gwinnett’s Briscoe Field.

The FAA said the new requirement for airspace authorization before flying a drone in controlled airspace replaces the previous requirement to notify the airport and air traffic control tower before flying within five miles of an airport.

You can still fly recreational drones below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace.

But, “Until further notice, air traffic control facilities will no longer accept requests to operate recreational drones in controlled airspace on a case-by-case basis,” the FAA said Thursday. “Instead... the FAA is granting temporary airspace authorizations to fly in certain ‘fixed sites’ in controlled airspace throughout the country.”

There are currently only two fixed sites listed in the state of Georgia: One in Atlanta and one in Savannah. The one in Atlanta is the Atlanta RC Club Field at 1600 Constitution Ave.

The FAA said in the future, recreational flyers will be able to get authorization from the agency to fly in controlled airspace, because the agency is upgrading its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability system to allow recreational flyers to use it.

“For now, however, recreational flyers who want to operate in controlled airspace may only do so at the fixed sites,” the FAA said.

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About the Author

Kelly Yamanouchi
Kelly Yamanouchi
Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.