Unmanned Aerial System

The Port of Benton is facing safety and operational challenges to accommodate Drones (or UAS; Unmanned Aerials Systems) operations in the vicinity our airports:

  • Richland Airport (RLD)
  • Prosser Airport (S40)

This webpage is intended to provide information to UAS operators to help ensure the safety of those aircraft and other aircraft operating at or near our airports. Please verify all information independently. The regulatory environment for these relatively new aviation technologies is changing rapidly and state and federal legislation will certainly be created as growing pains continue to materialize.

It is the responsibility of the operator to ensure that all federal aviation regulations and state of Washington laws are followed.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is charged with providing for our nation’s airspace and has formalized statutory requirements for all UAS operations.

FAA’s rules must be followed. Failure to do so could result in an unsafe situation for your UAS and other aircraft with people on board.

In the vicinity of our airports, Port of Benton staff may check to see if a UAS operator has the proper authorizations and will immediately report unsafe activities to local law enforcement and to the FAA Safety Hotline. Staff has shared the information a police officer may have upon making contact with you.

Where Can I Fly My Drone

Where you can fly depends upon:

  1. For what PURPOSE, or for who, you are flying
  2. WEIGHT of drone you are using
  3. WHERE you are in relation to the Richland and Prosser airports

PURPOSE: For what purpose, or for whom, you are flying.

Drones or Unmanned Aerial System operations (UAS) operations are currently classified in three categories by FAA: Public, Commercial or Model Aircraft:

  1. Public Operations: These operations are conducted by state or federal agencies under consent from a Certificate of Authorization (COA), issued by FAA. FAA coordination with the Port will have been pre-arranged and we will already know your intention to operate. You must notify the Port staff.
  2. Commercial Operations: These non-public UAS operation are temporarily authorized by FAA regulations that are not Model operations (see below).
  3. Model Aircraft Operations: These operations are for recreational or hobby purposes only.

WEIGHT CONSIDERATION of the UAS you are flying.

  • If your UAS weighs more than 55 pounds you may not operate as a commercial or model aircraft operator, regardless of location.
  • If your UAS weighs more than 0.55 pounds you must register it with FAA.
  • If your UAS weighs less than 0.55 pounds you may register it with FAA.

WHERE: you are in relation to the Richland (RLD) and Prosser (S40) airports.

PUBLIC OPERATION

Regardless of location around our airports, if you are a state or federal agency (Public Operation) flying UAS via an FAA-authorized COA you must notify the Port of Benton that you are in the vicinity before operations begins, to be advised of any local airport or air traffic procedures we may have in affect. We may be required to issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) or the FAA may impose a Temporary Flight Restriction on our airspace. Please check for updates to this guidance each time you operate in the vicinity of our airports.

COMMERCIAL OPERATION

If you are flying your Drone via a temporary FAA-authorized COA, as a Commercial Operation, you must:

  • Notify the Port of Benton that you are in the vicinity before operations begin to be advised of any local airport or air traffic procedures we may have in force. We must to issue a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM).
  • Ensure that the aircraft is 3 statute miles away from Richland Airport and 2 miles from Prosser Airport.
  • Not fly an aircraft which weighs more than 55 pounds.
  • Ensure that the aircraft remains lower than 400 feet above ground level at your location and it is Daytime.

—Please check for updates to this guidance each time you operate in the vicinity.

MODEL AIRCRAFT OPERATION

If you are flying your Drone as a Model Aircraft Operation, you must:

  • REMAIN FIVE (5) STATUTE MILES AWAY FROM RICHLAND AND PROSSER AIRPORTS
  • Maintain visual line of sight with your UAS at all times.
  • Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.
  • Do not fly near people or stadiums.
  • Not fly a UAS which weighs more than 55 pounds.
  • Ensure that the aircraft remains lower than 400 feet above ground level at your location at all times.
  • Do not be careless or reckless with your UAS. You could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft.

Regardless of the category of UAS you are operating, PLEASE consider this:

  • Checking of for updates to guidance each time you operate in the vicinity.
  • Review FAA’s Know Before Your Fly campaign.
  • Review FAA’s FAQ’s.
  • Getting FAA’s the B4UFLY app or other industry mapping apps for the UAS user.
  • Review the American Academy of Model Aeronautics’ (AMA) site.
  • Review thepdf information a peace officer may have upon making contact with you.

Refer to the Attached Richland and Prosser Airspace Maps for operations restrictions and areas of aircraft safety.

Reference

FAA, in October 2013 inventoried UAS concerns and issues resulting in the comprehensive

pdf A Comprehensive Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems in the National Airspace System Roadmap.

pdf Comprehensive UW Law review of the landscape Several states have legislation which serves to limit a type of activity associated with UAS. pdf WSDOT System Plan Updating Memorandum for UAS.

Additional FAA regulatory, rule-making and legislative information. A Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to formalize FAR Part 107 changes closed on April 24, 2016.

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