Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Drones are a popular tool in the production industry when it comes to motion picture, television and commercial filming. As the use of UAS is still quite new, the regulations pertaining to them are continually evolving.
The Austin Police Department is happy to support safe UAS operations within the city limits of Austin. The Air Support Unit works to monitor commercial drone operations to assure safe and licensed remote pilots flying within the FAA PART 107 guidelines. All commercial UAS flights are required to complete the Austin Police Department Special Events Unmanned Aerial Operations Request for approval prior to permits being issued. If you have questions or concerns, please contact: APDdronereview@austintexas.gov
The City of Austin allows the use of UAS for filming. In January 2017, the Austin Police Department issued the following Training Announcement regarding enforcement related to drones:
Officers should not focus their enforcement efforts on drones flying safely in public places, or over private property where the drone operator has permission to operate. There are a number of different scenarios, however, where drone operation:
1. Unsafe Operation of Drones in Public Places:
Officers may enforce the following City Code provisions—violation of which is a class C misdemeanor—when they observe unsafe drone operation in public places, including drones operating over crowds:
2. Drones on Private Property:
3. Drones Interfering with Law Enforcement:
4. Seizure of Drones as Evidence:
Like any other commercial filming, if any City of Austin property is used for UAS filming a permit must be obtained to use the property. This includes filming in parks or any pilot/crew setup on a City of Austin right of way (roadway or sidewalk).
Areas around the City of Austin where UAS flight is restricted:
* There is a No-fly-zone (NFZ) in-place within a five-mile radius of all airports including AUS.
**A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is a regulatory action that briefly restricts aircraft within a three-mile radius a defined area. A TFR is issued during certain sporting events (like Longhorn games) and presidential visits.
STATE OF TEXAS REGULATIONS
The State of Texas’s Government Code regarding use of unmanned aircraft details what is permissible use (423.002) and what is considered an offense (423.003, 423.004, 423.045). Contact the local municipality you’re filming in to see if they have their own additional regulations.
Texas Government Code regarding use of UAS: Texas Government Code, Chapter 423 – Use of Unmanned Aircraft
Be aware when flying around bats:
Under state law and State of Texas Administrative Code Title 5, Subtitle B, Chapters 63.101, 65.151 and 152 and 42.1095 – the following applies as noted in law:
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION (FAA) REGULATIONS
The FAA requires that UAS owners register their UAS prior to operation. This rule pertains to UAS weighing more than 250 grams and less than 55 pounds. The FAA also asks that UAS activities stay under 400 feet. This is to make sure the UAS don’t fly at the same operating altitudes as full sized aircraft.
FAA guides and rules that may be helpful:
For more information on UAS use, please contact: Federal Aviation Administration – Southwest Region
Kelvin L. Solco
Southwest Region Regional Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
Southwest Region Deputy Regional Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
Know Before You Fly
An education campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of UAS.
CSATF Recommended Guidelines for Safely Working Around UAS
Safety bulletins via the Contract Services Administration Trust Fund, A non-profit organization that administers a variety of programs for the benefit of the motion picture and television industry.