NYC’s Proposed Drone Rules to unlock the skies over Manhattan

The Department announced its plan to institute a drone permit process for the public. The proposed drone rules aim to regulate the launch and landing of drones within the city.

The NYPD will hold a public hearing on the proposed rules in person. The public hearing will take place at 10:00 am on July 7, 2023 in the Auditorium on the first floor of 1 Police Plaza, New York, NY 10038.

In the dense urban landscape of New York City, drone operations are currently prohibited, barring specific public parks. Currently, Manhattan does not house any of these exceptions.

According to New York City Administrative Code Section 10-126(c), any aircraft activity outside areas assigned by the transportation department or the Port of New York authority is illegal.

However, city departments, including the Fire Department and the Buildings Department, utilize drones for monitoring fires, assessing fire damage, and conducting building safety inspections.

Drones are being considered for future use in facade inspections, a mandatory process every five years for buildings exceeding six stories, as per Local Law 11.

Details of the proposed drone rules

The proposed rules would establish a permitting process for the take-off and/or landing of an unmanned aircraft, including a drone, within New York City. The application would need to be submitted at least 30 days prior to the earliest proposed take-off or landing, and would include information such as:

  • The name and contact information of the operator and the 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
  • The specific geographic area where the drone flight will take place
  • Drone make and model information
  • Relevant Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) information and documentation for the drone and or drone flight
  • Required insurance information
  • Details regarding the applicant's data privacy and cybersecurity practices
  • Any other relevant information related to the proposed drone flight in NYC.
  • A non-refundable fee of $150 will have to accompany the application as well.

The proposed regulations include suggested penalties for non-compliance. Section 24-07 outlines penalties for controlling, operating, or causing a drone to take-off or land within New York City without a proper permit, or for violating permit terms or any provision of this chapter.

Penalties are structured as civil fines: $250 for the first violation, $500 for a second violation within a year, and $1000 for the third and subsequent violations within a year. Additionally, anyone violating section 10-126 of the Administrative Code may face misdemeanor charges.

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Lawsuit triggered development of proposed drone rules

A source reportedly revealed that a 2021 federal lawsuit filed by Xizmo Media Productions LLC against New York City has acted as a catalyst for this hearing. The plaintiff contends that the city's drone ban infringes upon the First Amendment, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) should regulate the city's airspace, not New York City.

Anyone interested in contributing to the public hearing must register in advance, either by calling 646-610-5400 and asking for Melanie Braverman, or by emailing NYCRules@nypd.org with their name and affiliation before June 30. Attendees can indicate their wish to comment at the hearing itself, though pre-registration is preferred. Each speaker is allowed a three-minute comment window.

The N.Y.P.D. is also accepting comments via the NYC rules website at rules.cityofnewyork.us, email at NYCRules@NYPD.org, or postal mail to N.Y.P.D. Bureau, One Police Plaza, Room 1406, New York, NY 10038, addressed to Agency Attorney Melanie Braverman.

Let us know in the comments below what you think of these proposed a drone rules for New York City, including Manhattan.

Photo of the Statue of Liberty New York City courtesy of Ralph.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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