TheFederal Aviation Administration(FAA) is warning drone owners and operators that they will be subject to significant fines that may exceed $20,000 if they interfere with emergency response operations in the areas affected by Hurricane Michael.

Many aircraft that are conducting life-saving missions and other critical response and recovery efforts are likely to be flying at low altitudes over areas affected by the storm. Flying a drone without authorization in or near the disaster area may unintentionally disrupt rescue operations and violate federal, state, or local laws and ordinances, even if aTemporary Flight Restriction(TFR) is not in place. Allow first responders to save lives and property without interference.

Government agencies with anFAA Certificate of Authorization(COA) or flying underPart 107, as well as private sector Part 107 drone operators who want to support response and recovery operations, are strongly encouraged to coordinate their activities with the local incident commander responsible for the area in which they want to operate.

If drone operators need to fly in controlled airspace or a disaster TFR to support the response and recovery, operatorsmustcontact the FAAs System Operations Support Center (SOSC) by emailing9-ATOR-HQ-SOSC@faa.govtheinformationthey need to authorize access to the airspace. Coordination with the SOSC may also include a requirement that a drone operator obtain support from the appropriate incident commander.

Heres the information the FAA may require:

  • the unmanned aircraft type
  • a PDF copy of a current FAA COA
  • the pilots Part 107 certificate number
  • details about the proposed flight (date, time, location, altitude, direction and distance to the nearest airport, and latitude/longitude)
  • nature of the event (fire, law enforcement, local/national disaster, missing person) and the pilots qualification information.