Before you even think about flying your drone, make sure you are aware of the federal and state laws in place. These laws are mostly the same between states, but there are some differences that are specific to certain areas. This article will discuss the Washington state drone laws, as well as the Washington D.C. drone laws.
Federal Drone Laws
Knowing the federal drone laws is always a good place to start. These are laws that apply to each and every state in the United States, including Washington. The FAA requires that any hobbyist registers their drone before its first flight. This includes filing your name, home address, and email address in order to receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration. Simultaneously, you will receive Proof of Ownership. Both of these documents will list your drone identification number.
When flying your drone, you are not allowed within a five mile radius of any airport without receiving permission. Keeping your drone within your line of sight is also a law. Never fly if you can’t see it. You also are not allowed to exceed flying over 400 feet in the air. Flying speeds must be maintained at 100 mph or lower. It is not legal to fly your drone from a moving vehicle or flying it directly over humans.
Washington State Drone Laws
Drone laws in Washington state include the previously mentioned and also more. It is unlawful to operate any drone in any park, unless authorized with a permit from the Superintendent.
There has also been concern about flying drones near and around ferries. Washington State Ferries, also known as WSF, has declared that drones should not fly within a 500 foot radius of any vessels. In previous years, drone owners were launching from the ferry decks and it can become a navigational hazard for boat captains.
If you are caught not abiding the rules in place, regardless of whether you are a hobbyist or a commercial pilot, you could be fined for hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars.
A typical concern for people is drones flying over their private property. In Washington, a residence may ask to have a “no-fly” indicator over their property. This isn’t legally binding, however if you see these marked areas, be responsible. Avoid them as much as possible. This is to be taken in consideration for any state.
Washington D.C. Drone Laws
The airspace around Washington D.C. is actually much more restricted than any other part of the United States. This area is governed by the SFRA, Special Flight Rules Area, because it is the national capital.
The SFRA governs all drone flights within a 30 mile radius of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. This area that is governed is split between the first 15-mile radius being the inner ring, and the other 15-30 mile radius being the outer ring.
Where to Fly in Washington D.C.
Within the inner ring, flying a drone in Washington D.C. is completely prohibited without FAA authorization.
As far as the outer ring, hobbyists and commercial pilots may fly in this area as long as they are in accordance with the following conditions. The drone must weigh less than 55 pounds, with any and all attachments. The drone must also be registered and marked. You must also abide by the previously mentioned federal regulations, such as flying below 400 feet and so on.
Since this area has been well-protected since after the attacks of 9/11, anyone violating the regulations in Washington, D.C. will be heavily fined and face criminal penalties.
Safe Drone Flying in Washington
Whether you are in Washington state or Washington D.C., avoid any trouble, fines or other consequences by simply being informed. These regulations are in place to keep not only the surrounding communities safe, but also yourself and your drone. Have fun and be safe!