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FAA logoThe Federal Aviation Administration estimates that more than a million Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones will be sold this 2015 holiday season.

The FAA has documented hundreds of incidents this year where aircraft pilots have encountered drones while in flight.

“Recreational drones can be a fun and innovative way to experience aviation. However, operators must keep in mind that drones can cause serious damage if not handled properly or if they are flown in inappropriate areas,” said Dr. Jeff DeCarlo, Administrator of MassDOT’s Aeronautics Division. “If an operator loses control of a drone, or if a drone experiences a mechanical issue, it can cause serious injuries or damage to other aircraft or property.”

If you are planning on buying or giving a recreational drone this holiday season, MassDOT suggests the following guidelines (along with common sense) to assist users with safe operation:

• Contact an airport or control tower if you are operating (or planning to operate) a drone within five miles of an airport, no matter the size of the airport.
• Stay within an appropriate operational area. Drones should not be flown above populated areas, sporting events or private properties, such a neighbor’s backyard.
• Do not fly in bad weather conditions or low visibility.
• Operate drones only during daytime hours and within sight. Do not rely on binoculars or following a drone with a moving vehicle to maintain visual contact.
• Fly no higher than 400 feet.
• Fly more than 25 feet away from vehicles, boats, buildings or people.
• Avoid other aircraft, including other drones. Land as soon as it is safely possible if an aircraft comes within the vicinity of your drone.

In addition, please note that the FAA has implemented new registration requirements that go into effect, today, Dec. 21, which require registration of drones weighing less than 55 pounds and more than 0.55 pounds. These requirements are in addition to existing FAA registration requirements for drones weighing more than 55 pounds. Visit the FAA online for more information on registering your drone.

MassDOT wishes you a safe and happy holiday season!

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