Several U.S. dams on newly released list of sites where drone operation is restricted

The Federal Aviation Administration has released a list of Department of Interior sites where drone operations are restricted, and dams made up half of the list.

The FAA and Interior have agreed to restrict drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of the 10 sites on the list. Dams and hydro plants are:

  • Folsom Dam (198.72 MW) in Folsom, Calif.
  • Glen Canyon Dam (1,312 MW) in Lake Powell, Ariz.
  • Grand Coulee Dam (6,809 MW) in Grand Coulee, Wash.
  • Hoover Dam (2,078 MW) in Boulder City, Nev.
  • Shasta Dam (663 MW) in Shasta, Calif.

Other sites on the list are the Statue of Liberty National Monument, Boston National Historical Park, Independence National Historical Park, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

FAA did not indicate why these specific dams were chosen.

The restrictions will be effective Oct. 5. Operators who violate the airspace restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

Only a few exceptions permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or FAA.

FAA says this is the first time it has placed airspace restrictions for unmanned aircraft over Interior landmarks. FAA cites as its authority Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations — “Special Security Instructions.”

Drones are being used more at dams and hydro projects.


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