Flying a drone in Washington D.C. is governed by a Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) within a 30-mile radius of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, which restricts all flights in the greater D.C. area.
The SFRA is divided into a 15-mile radius inner ring and a 30-mile radius outer ring.
- Flying an unmanned aircraft within the 15-mile radius inner ring is prohibited without specific FAA authorization.
- Flying a drone for recreational or non-recreational use between 15 and 30 miles from Washington, D.C. is allowed under these operating conditions:
- Aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (including any attachments such as a camera)
- Aircraft must be registered and marked (if it is not operated exclusively under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, pending NOTAM change)
- Fly below 400 ft.
- Fly within visual line-of-sight
- Fly in clear weather conditions
- Never fly near other aircraft
The airspace around Washington, D.C. is more restricted than in any other part of the country. Rules put in place after the 9/11 attacks establish “national defense airspace” over the area and limit aircraft operations to those with an FAA and Transportation Security Administration authorization. Violators face stiff fines and criminal penalties.