Drones

Drones aka UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems)
Posted on 07/29/2019
White DroneDue to some recent issues related to "Drones" in the township, we are going to try to address some concerns and issues surrounding them.

A "Drone" is an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration per a federal law passed in January of 2018.  The law defines different classes of UAS and the regulations that pertain to each.

In 2019, Pennsylvania law was amended and Section 3505 of Title 18, the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, makes the surveillance of people in a private place, or the operation of a drone in a manner which places another person in reasonable fear of bodily injury a summary offense.

The same law also specifically prohibits local municipalities from enacting any sort of ordinance otherwise governing these devices.

ALL of our UAS complaints have involved recreational UAS systems.  These aerial devices, which must be flown below 400 feet, are REQUIRED to be registered with the FAA, except those that weigh .55 pounds or less (less than 250 grams) and are flown exclusively under the Exception for Recreational Flyers. There are general rules/guidelines that must be followed by the UAS pilot and a listing of those regulations can be found here:

https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/register_drone/#:~:text=All%20drones%20must%20be%20registered,well%20as%20under%20part%20107.

https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/

The federal government owns the airspace so private citizens are not permitted to regulate the space above their residences or businesses (generally).  That's obviously in place so people can't claim ownership up to 30,000 feet and then file trespassing complaints against airplanes. 

In addition to the Crimes Code section previously referenced, there are some other Pennsylvania laws that could be brought against a UAS pilot who is hovering over a neighbor's pool or house such as Disorderly Conduct or Harassment.

While the federal regulations require the UAS to be flown within eyesight of the pilot, it doesn't mean that everyone will or that the pilot can be easily identified.  If you have a drone that is violating your privacy, the following things will be helpful in trying to identify the UAS pilot/owner:

1.  Look for the FAA registration number.  While they are to be posted on the UAS. the small size of the UAS may make this difficult.
2.  Most recreational drones don't have a long operating distance from the pilot so explore around the neighborhood to see if you can see someone operating a drone. Please do not walk through other people's yards or through gates but simply take note and provide the information to the police.
3.  Get to know your neighbors and talk about who had drones so that a small list of pilots could be given to the police. If they aren't the responsible party, they may know who has what type of UAS (model/make/color).

If you are a UAS pilot the following will help us in curbing abusive use of the devices:

1.  Follow all FAA regulations.
2.  Be a good neighbor and understand the privacy rights and concerns of those around you.
3.  Talk to your neighbors about your UAS and where you intend to fly it.
4.  Do not use it late at night (FAA violation)
5.  Work within the UAS community to identify abusive pilots and provide education to others on these flight systems.

"Drones" will be seeing increased use in our society as their benefits are being realized for recreation and commercial purposes.  Large companies have been exploring using UAS devices for home delivery and have seen some success.

If you are experiencing an issue with a UAS, please utilize some of the strategies above and call 911 for a police officer to respond.  This issue is relatively new to us and we are not experts in UAS devices or the federal regulations. We will however do our best to protect your privacy.

If you have additional questions, comments or concerns, please send them to [email protected]

updated: 11/16/20
Township of Hampden | All Rights Reserved | Powered by: Civic Live | © 2018 West Corporation | Intranet Login | Login | Employee Email