FAA Warns Drone Operators Not to Fly Near Areas Affected by Hurricane Florence

Violations could result in hefty fines.

hurricane florence drones
Drones can interfere with rescue operations and can't be flown near disaster areas.Josh Sorenson

The FAA is warning drone operators to fly clear of areas that have been affected by Hurricane Florence. According to statements released by the FAA on its website and Twitter, flying drones in the impacted regions could interfere with local, state, and federal recovery missions. Drone pilots caught breaking this rule could be slapped with a $20,000 fine, the FAA said on Twitter.

“Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference,” the FAA said on its website.

The FAA also turned off the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) system for FAA-towered airports that were in the path of the storm. LAANC allows drone pilots to be granted real-time authorizations to fly within controlled airspace. LAANC is expected to be restored within 30 days.

Additionally, the FAA released a special notice to drone operators who are supporting the recovery efforts, which states that they are restricted to an altitude of 200 feet above the ground while flying in North or South Carolina, and are reminded to continue giving way to manned aircraft.

According to ABC 12 in North Carolina, drone operators who want to support the recovery efforts are encouraged to coordinate with local authorities, along with contacting the FAA's System Operations Support Center.