Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Aeronautics and Aviation

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Drones: Information for Airport Managers and Owners

Picture of a Drone

UAS Information for Airport Managers and OwnersThis is an image of the B4Ufly cell phone app.

UAS may pose a hazard to manned aircraft operations.  In the fall of 2016, manned aircraft in the US were reporting UAS sightings at a rate of more than five per day.  Under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 101.41, Special Rule for Model Aircraft, UAS flown for recreation or hobby planning to operate within five miles of an airport must provide the airport operator and the air traffic control tower prior notice. The FAA has an app (B4Ufly) and there are other apps available for UAS operators to identify the airspace around airports.

Operators of UAS under 14 CFR, Part 107, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, are not required to contact the airport prior to operating.  However, we recommend Part 107 operators make contact with airports as a best practice.  Operators of UAS under a certificate of authorization (COA) issued by the FAA may be required to enter into a letter of agreement (LOA) with an airport, when operating close to the airport.

If airport staff are contacted by a UAS operator, we recommend that you gather information from the operator.  We recommend keeping a record (PDF) of all notifications.  As an airport operator you do not have the authority to tell someone they cannot fly their UAS.  If however, the UAS operation appears to interfere or endanger manned aircraft operations we recommend that you call law enforcement and ask them to make the UAS land and follow up with a call to the FAA.

When the airport phone is not answered 24/7/365, the airport operator should consider how they will accept UAS siting notifications.  Airports should establish a process for accepting UAS notifications. That information should be publicized on the airport’s website, bulletin board, and the community’s website. That information should also be privided to local UAS operators or groups.

The airport can control flights on the airport.  Model aircraft operations and model rocketry are not aeronautical uses and are not appropriate on airport property.  At some point, UAS will grow to a size where they will need a runway for takeoff and landing.  Before you allow UAS operators to conduct business on airport property, the airport should do a risk analysis to determine if the operation can be safely accommodated with the other aviation uses that exist.  If the airport operator chooses to allow UAS operations at the airport they should add a remark into the airport Chart Supplement that describes the activity.