July 25, 2017
New Drone Laws to Take Effect
drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), become more
common, North Carolina’s laws are changing to stay up-to-date with this
fast-growing industry. Governor Roy Cooper has signed two bills
sent to his desk by the General Assembly, one revising existing laws
and one new law to ensure that drone operation remains safe.
House Bill 128
prohibits drone use near prisons. Near is defined as a horizontal
distance of 500 feet or a vertical distance of 250 feet. NCDOT will
place signs marking these boundaries. The law goes into effect Dec. 1.
House Bill 337
revises existing state drone laws. The language of the law has been
changed to clarify that UAS laws will now apply to model aircraft as
well. This part of the law also goes into effect on Dec. 1. Model
aircraft users are still exempt from the state’s permitting
Other changes in the law serve to streamline North
Carolina regulations with federal regulations. The minimum age for
getting a commercial permit to operate UAS will now be the age federal
law stipulates, which is currently 16. Additionally, people wishing to
obtain a commercial permit can use any government-issued form of photo
identification allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. This
section of the law became effective immediately.
also loosen restrictions on the use of UAS in emergency management. The
law permits emergency management agencies to use drones for all
activities related to emergency management and removes the restriction
on the use of special imaging technology. The use of technologies such
as thermal and infrared was previously only permitted for scientific
purposes. The removal of the restriction allows private and commercial
operators to assist law enforcement with emergency management efforts
such as search and rescue operations.
The UAS Knowledge Test Study Guide has been updated to reflect these changes and is available on the N.C. Division of Aviation website, along with information on how to ensure you are compliant with current regulations.