On July 7th, the New York Police Department (NYPD) will hold a public hearing on amending the rules to create a procedure by which members of the public can submit applications to launch or land an unmanned aircraft or drone within New York City.

New York City presents unique challenges for drone operations due to its three separate airports, densely populated areas, and towering skyscrapers. These distinctive features introduce hazards not commonly encountered in other jurisdictions, making using drones within the city more complex. While drones have proven valuable in capturing breathtaking cinematic footage, assisting first responders in rescue operations, facilitating research projects, and conducting surveys, the City must strike a balance between ensuring safety and privacy concerns associated with widespread drone use and harnessing the significant benefits of this emerging technology.

Current Administrative Code in New York City, § 10-126- Avigation in and over the city, makes it “..unlawful for any person avigating an aircraft to take off or land, except in an emergency, at any place within the limits of the city other than places of landing designated by the department of transportation or the port of New York authority.”

The law defines an aircraft as “Any contrivance, now or hereafter invented for avigation or flight in the air, including a captive balloon, except a parachute or other contrivance designed for use, and carried primarily as safety equipment.” Avigate is defined as ” To pilot, steer, direct, fly or manage an aircraft in or through the air, whether controlled from the ground or otherwise.”

Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the national airspace, local laws such as NYC’s § 10-126 seek to add some level of local control by regulating where drone pilots can and can not take off or land within the city.

As per the provisions of the law, the police commissioner has the authority to establish rules and regulations for the enforcement of the mentioned section. In line with this, the NYPD is putting forth a proposed permitting scheme to facilitate the legal take-off and landing of unmanned aircraft, including drones, throughout the City of New York. This permitting scheme aims to ensure compliance with regulations and promote safe and responsible unmanned aircraft operations within the city limits.

The proposed amendment to the New York City Police Department Rules, to be added as a new Chapter 24 to Title 38 of the Rules of the City of New York, would:

  • Add new § 24-01 defining key terms relevant to the permit application process.
  • Add new § 24-02 requiring a permit to launch or land an unmanned aircraft, including a
    drone, within New York City, with limited exceptions.
  • Add new § 24-03 establishing a permitting process for the take-off and/or landing of an unmanned aircraft, including a drone, within New York City, including an application that must be submitted at least 30 days before the earliest proposed take-off or landing, consisting of various elements, including:
    • Name and contact information of the applicant, and any proposed operator and
      visual observer;
    • A description of the intended purpose or use of the unmanned aircraft;
    • The proposed date, time, and location of the take-off and landing of the unmanned aircraft;
    • Information regarding the specific geographic area where the flight of the unmanned aircraft will be conducted;
    • Information regarding the unmanned aircraft, such as manufacturer or model number;
    • Documentation of FAA authorization to operate an unmanned aircraft, any relevant waivers, and registration certificate for the unmanned aircraft;
    • A copy of the required insurance policies;
    • Copies of the applicants’ data privacy and cybersecurity policies, or details regarding the applicant’s data privacy and cybersecurity practices; and
    • Any additional information that the Department determines is necessary to make a determination as to whether a permit should be issued.
  • Add new § 24-04 detailing procedures for the approval and disapproval of applications, the appeal procedure for disapproved applications, and the reasons for denial of a permit application.
  • Add new § 24-05 providing terms and conditions with which the permittee and any operator of the unmanned aircraft must comply.
  • Add new § 24-06 establishing minimum insurance requirements.
  • Add new § 25-07 establishing a civil penalty for launching or landing an unmanned aircraft within New York City without a permit, or for violating a term of a permit or any provision of Chapter 24.

More information proposed rule, to include providing comments and the public hearing can be found at Applications to Launch or Land an Unmanned Aircraft, Including a “Drone”

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Post Image- New York City Skyline at Dusk (Image Credit- envatoelements by westend61)