Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

Aeronautics and Aviation

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Drones: Information for Communities

Picture of a Drone

UAS Information for Communities

As UAS use becomes more popular, communities are likely to experience positive and negative issues related to their use. Having policies and practices in place allows a community to be ahead of these issues. Communicating with citizens about proper UAS use can reduce the number of calls and complaints in the community by encouraging safe practices which reduces the workload for law enforcement.

UAS flights in public places

UAS operations may seem scary to citizens using parks and playgrounds in the community. Though UAS users are encouraged to maintain a safe distance from people and property, what that distance is understood to be and how it is measured may differ from person to person.

What you can do:

  • Work with UAS users and groups in the community to identify public locations where they would like to fly.
  • Develop criteria for when and where UAS use is allowed.  Provide UAS users with times when athletic and other events are scheduled and prohibit UAS operations during events.
  • Determine locations where UAS should never be flown and post “No Drone Zone” signs as well as listing them in a community policy.
  • Post “Best Practices” for drone use to encourage responsible UAS use in the community and inform people about what not to do with a UAS and how citizens should report bad behavior.
  • Help local UAS/model aircraft groups advertise to new drone users so that new users can learn from others that are operating safely.
  • Make UAS information easy to find on the community website.
  • Provide links to the FAA and other sites with UAS related information such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and KnowBeforeYouFly.
  • Hold training for staff and law enforcement personnel on what to do when UAS are flying where they shouldn’t.

UAS flights on private property

UAS operators should have permission from property owners before operating on private property. For invasion of privacy, trespass and peeping tom issues, law enforcement should respond and enforce these laws as they would if it were not a UAS.

Communities may wish to define nuisance as it applies to UAS. This may involve the noise that is associated with UAS or the proximity to people and property associated with the possible hazard of the operation or with the gathering of pictures or video.

Communities should be mindful of business uses that could be affected by sweeping definitions of nuisance.  Roof inspectors may want to fly over a roof to inspect for damages, real estate agents may hire videographers to capture video of a property to assist in listing the property. Other yet unanticipated uses may arise, so any restrictions should be crafted to balance between the safety and enjoyment of citizens and a business’s ability to conduct their business in a responsible manner.

What you can do:

UAS flights and community events

UAS operations are not allowed over gatherings of people. When planning a community event, the planning for controlling UAS use should start early.

What you can do:

  • Develop notices for local model aircraft/drone groups to get the word out to their members that the event will be a “No Drone Zone”.
  • Use the “No Drone Zone” graphic on advertising for the event.
  • Post "No Drone Zone" Flyers at event or along the route for parades; start a few days ahead of the event.
  • Hold training for staff and law enforcement on how to proceed if a UAS is spotted.

MN Aeronautics laws relevant to UAS (aircraft) use