Unless you get a special permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAV to fly close to the airport is illegal. The Federal Aviation Administration granted exemptions to unmanned small airports, but until recently, it had never been allowed to cover dozens of major airports in Class B UAVs.
On January 10, 2017, 3D Robotics (3DR) received such permission and conducted the first drone flights at a major airport under the new Part 107 commercial drone rules, as Recode first reported.
Dr. 3 performs seven Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport flights (ATL), the world’s busiest airport in 2015 becoming the first airport in the world to be more than 100 million passengers a year. Dr. 3 is responsible for collecting data on two four-story parking structures at the airport, where the construction company was demolished. 3 Dr. captured more than 700 of the 40-acre image section of the airport.
3 explains how it got the Federal Aviation Administration approval, Dr. said, “Part of the authority required is that the flight control team in the radio contact the ATL control tower has been flying and performing all the operations of the control tower authority.
Here’s more about how 3DR was granted permission:
“Because the site was in the controlled airspace of an international airport, the 3DR team used the new FAA online portal to obtain the authorization for the flight. As part of the airspace authorization process, 3DR and Atkins were able to demonstrate to the FAA that an operation in such a critical location between runways could be performed safely using Site Scan, 3DR’s autonomous aerial data capture platform. After coordinating with the ATL air traffic control tower, the FAA granted airspace authorization enabling this aerial data capture on Atkins’ construction site.”
The FAA only started approving applications for waivers to fly drones near busy airports on December 5, 2016. 3DR worked with Autodesk, Atkins, a design and engineering firm, and the Department of Aviation of the City of Atlanta to perform the first FAA-approved commercial drone operation at a major airport.