New rules for drone users - | WBTV Charlotte

New rules for drone users

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The holiday season brought to all of us something new to think about in the sky overhead.

The Federal Aviation Administration predicted one million new drones would be sold to, mainly, recreational users.

John Martin is one of them.  He got a small one, to use for practice, so he's ready when he's able to buy a larger one he can use to take video for his fishing lure business.

"It's a lot of fun.  While you're trying to figure it out, you crash a lot," Martin said.

Unmanned aircraft that weigh more than .55 pounds and less than 55 pounds must be registered with the FAA, now.  However, that is only the first step in a long list of rules users must follow or potentially face penalties. 

They are rules that some worry not all new users might know.

Coty Brown is a tactical flight officer for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department.  He patrols at roughly 500 feet above ground.  Drones are required to stay below 400 feet but he's seen them at his altitude.

"About 100 feet away at the same level as we were.  It was a little too close for comfort," Brown said.

Too close because no matter how small, a drone can do significant damage to his helicopter and put his safety and the safety of others in jeopardy.

That is why the FAA is pulling out all of the stops to make resources available to drone owners and operators.  It wants people to know the rules so they can fly safely.

Websites like this lay out all of the rules and a new app called "B4UFLY"  helps users know if it is safe and legal to fly in their current or planned location.

Already the FAA is enforcing rules with a spokesperson explaining there have been two dozen enforcements across the country since new rules went into place.

As of the first week of January more than 181,000 unmanned aircraft have been registered with the FAA.

Follow the links below to learn more from the FAA about registering unmanned aircraft and the rules involved in flying them.

FAA UAS Fact Sheet

Information on Registering Your Aircraft

Law Enforcement Guidance Material

Pre-flight Checklist

Know Before You Fly

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