The FAA is warning amateur drone pilots that they could be fined for unauthorized flight near disaster zones left by Hurricane Harvey and that they should not interfere with the work of emergency responders.
The brief warning Friday, sent via email, reads, “The FAA warns unauthorized drone operators that they may be subject to significant fines if they interfere with emergency response operations. Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is not in place. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.”
As of this writing, the FAA had only posted the same warning on its page about Hurricane Harvey without additional details. The warning is already being discussed on at least one forum for drone pilots.
It’s unclear exactly how close a registered drone pilot may fly to a disaster area or how strictly this warning will be enforced. We’ve reached out to the FAA for some clarification.
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