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Unmanned Aircraft System (Drone) Regulations

Regulations

Federal and local laws regulate the use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) and how they can be used in Boulder. Because the City of Boulder and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) each have rules about flying drones, this website is designed to clarify those regulations so you can safely and legally operate a drone. The bottom line: Anyone flying a drone must follow all federal, city and county guidelines. You may not launch, land or otherwise operate any unmanned motorized vehicle from or on any City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks land.

FAA rules dictate certain key rules about drones, and there’s an important difference between whether you’re flying your drone recreationally (not for money-making purposes) or commercially (for money-making purposes). For more information and a more complete list of regulations, visit the FAA’s website

Do's and Don'ts for Recreational Drones

For recreational flying (operating an unmanned aircraft for a non-money-making purpose), FAA rules include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Small unmanned aircraft must be registered with the FAA if more than 0.55 lbs, and cannot weigh more than 55 lbs.

  • Highly recommended to remain below 400 feet.

  • Unmanned aircraft may never fly over :

    • Groups of people

    • Stadiums or sports events

    • Near emergency response efforts such as fires

  • Operators must yield right of way to other aircraft and may never fly drones near aircraft. View a map from the Boulder Municipal Airport for guidelines about how to keep drones safely separated from larger aircraft.

  • Operators must not fly aircraft under the influence.

  • Operators must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight).

  • Operators must notify airport and air traffic control tower before flying within 5 miles of an airport. To notify the Boulder Municipal Airport, email [email protected]Download the FAA’s B4UFLY smartphone app for locations and contact information on local airports.

  • Flying within 3 nautical miles of Folsom Stadium is prohibited starting one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled time of any of University of Colorado football game. View this map for a general guideline of the areas where flying an unmanned aircraft is prohibited during this period.

In addition to following all FAA rules, people flying drones recreationally must also obey the following city regulation:

  • You may not launch, land or otherwise operate any unmanned motorized vehicle from or on any City of Boulder  Open Space and Mountain Parks land .

Do's and Don'ts for Commercial Drones

Commercial flying refers to operating an unmanned aircraft for money-making purposes, in furtherance of a business, or incidental to a person’s business.  This includes video or photos that produce revenue, real estate photography, news media, telecommunications or other commercial uses. Federal regulations include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Operators must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
  • Operators must be at least 16 years old.

  • Operators must pass TSA vetting.

  • Unmanned aircraft must be less than 55 lbs.

  • Aircraft must be registered if over 0.55 lbs (online).

  • Aircraft must undergo pre-flight check to ensure UAS is in condition for safe operation.

  • Operations in Class B, C, D, and E airspace are allowed with the required air traffic control (ATC) permission.

  • Operations in Class G airspace (uncontrolled airspace) are allowed without ATC permission.  View a map from the Boulder Municipal Airport  for guidelines about how to keep drones safely separated from larger aircraft.

  • No careless or reckless operations.

  • Flying within 3 nautical miles of Folsom Stadium is prohibited starting one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled time of any of University of Colorado football game.

  • Other operating rules subject to waiver , including but not limited to:

    • Must not fly over people.

    • Must fly during the day.

    • Must yield to manned aircraft.

    • Must fly under 400 feet.

    • Must keep the drone in sight.

    • Must fly under 100 mph.

    • Must not fly from a moving vehicle.

In addition to following all FAA rules, people flying drones commercially must also obey the following city regulation:

  • You may not launch, land or otherwise operate any unmanned motorized vehicle from or on any City of Boulder  Open Space and Mountain Parks land.

 

If you’re hoping to operate a drone from or fly a drone over Boulder County Parks and Open Space, check with the county to make sure you’re following their regulations. Also, before operating a drone on any school or university grounds, make sure to check with the school to make sure you’re operating safely and legally. Current City of Boulder ordinances and regulations enable the city manager to allow Open Space and Mountain Parks to launch and land unmanned vehicle aircraft from city open space land for public land management, wildlife management, search and rescue or public safety purposes.

To report drone-related issues in the city, contact Boulder Police Department’s non-emergency dispatch center at 303-441-3333.

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