What are Airspace Restrictions?

The Federal Aviation Administration uses airspace restrictions to permanently or temporarily restrict aircraft from traveling through a specific area of airspace for safety or security reasons. The FAA considers drones to be "aircraft," so any restrictions for aircraft also apply to drones. The FAA spells out its airspace restrictions by issuing Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs) on its website.

What are TFRs?

Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) define a certain area of airspace where air travel is limited because of a temporary hazardous condition, such as a wildfire or chemical spill; a security-related event, such as the United Nations General Assembly; or other special situations. The text of the actual TFR contains the details about the restriction, including the size, altitude, time period that it is in effect, and what types of operations are restricted and permitted.

The "Map Airports" tab on the TFR website can help narrow down the relevant active TFRs in a specific area.

To view the list of active TFRs visit:
http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html

For help navigating the TFR site visit:
http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/about.jsp

Restricted Airspace*

The Special Flight Rules Area and Flight Restricted Zone around Washington, D.C.

The airspace surrounding Washington DC is the most restricted in the country. Flying your drone is illegal in any of the restricted airspace above the Nation's capital.
https://www.faa.gov/uas/no_drone_zone/dc/

You can find additional information about these restrictions by using the "state" search window and selecting District of Columbia at:
http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html

Other restricted airspace may include:

  • Military Operating Areas
  • Stadiums Hosting Major Sporting Events – TFRs in place before and after the event

*This is not an exhaustive list, for complete information visit:
http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/about.jsp

Airports

Recreational operators are required to give notice for flights within five miles of an airport to BOTH the airport operator and air traffic control tower, if the airport has a tower. However, recreational operations are not permitted in Class B airspace around most major airports without specific air traffic permission and coordination.

This does not apply to Washington Dulles International, Ronald Reagan Washington National, and Baltimore Washington International Airport because they are part of the restricted airspace over the greater Washington DC area. Any recreational use of drones in this area is illegal.