Fort McCoy News June 9, 2017

FAA restricts unmanned aircraft

over military installations, including McCoy

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has instituted airspace restrictions for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as drones, over 133 military installations, including Fort McCoy.

The FAA and the Department of Defense (DOD) have agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet above ground level and within the lateral boundaries of these facilities. The restrictions began April 14.

"Military installations are vital to the nation's security," said James Hubbard, Fort McCoy air traffic and airspace officer. "These restrictions were put in place to address national security concerns about unauthorized drone operations."

Service members at Fort McCoy for training in the 86th Training Division’s Warrior Exercise 86-17-02 practice flying an unmanned aerial vehicle at Warrens Drop Zone on North Post during exercise operations May 4.
Service members at Fort McCoy for training in the 86th Training Division's
Warrior Exercise 86-17-02 practice flying an unmanned aerial vehicle at
Warrens Drop Zone on North Post during exercise operations May 4.
Photo
by Scott T. Sturkol

Only a few exceptions permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA. Any approved flights must have some benefit to Fort McCoy or the DOD.

Airspace outside of the cantonment area falls under two different classifications of airspace within the installation boundary — "controlled" airspace for the airport and "restricted" airspace for protecting aviation operations from artillery and other operations that may present a hazard to nonparticipating aircraft. "Restricted airspace cannot be activated for the sole purpose of covering non-DOD UAS operations," Hubbard said.

"In the range areas on North and South Post, civilian or non-Defense agency drone operations need approval of the range officer and myself," Hubbard said. "An approved civil-aircraft landing permit (DD Form 2401) is also required." On the cantonment area, approval must be granted by the range officer and air traffic and airspace officer.

In addition, recreational operators are required to give notice for flights within 5 miles of any airport to both the airport operator and air traffic control tower, if the airport has a tower. This includes local airspace outside Fort McCoy surrounding the Fort McCoy/Sparta Airport.

For general information about flying drones for recreational or business purposes, visit www.faa.gov/uas/.

To inquire about flying drones at Fort McCoy, call Range Scheduling at 608-388-3721 or the Sparta/Fort McCoy Airport manager at 608-388-4207.

   (Article prepared by the Fort McCoy Public Affairs Office and the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.)