Drones & UAS

A look at UAS Basics

Recently, small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) have grown in popularity among, both, hobbyists and commercial entities. However, it's important to remember that when operating any UAS—or as more commonly known, drone—the operator becomes engaged with the national airspace, as well as, the manned aircraft operating in it. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a "drone" or Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is any aircraft flown by a pilot via a ground control system. This includes rotor aircraft, multi-rotor, or fixed wing model aircraft.

To ensure the safety of all, the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Congress have established specific safety guidelines for small UAS operators. Drones, weighing between 0.55 lbs. (250 grams) and up to 55 lbs. (25 kg.) must be registered with the FAA, as of Dec. 21, 2015.

Additionally, the reason for which a drone is operated will determine what type of registration required. Using a drone to capture photos or video for personal enjoyment falls under the FAA's definition of recreational or hobby use, requiring a simple registration process. However, using a drone to create imagery for compensation is considered commercial operation and requires a more detailed registration process.

The FAA website can provide further clarification on which activities are views as commercial, non-hobby, or non-recreational UAS operations.

You can learn more about the different distinctions by visiting: https://www.faa.gov/uas/

The recreational use of UAS is the operation of an unmanned aircraft for personal enjoyment.


Remote pilot testing centers

For a complete list of certifies testing centers for the Part 107 remote pilot certification, click here. 

Safety guidelines for recreational UAS 

  • Fly below 400 feet above ground level (AGL) at all times
  • Keep your aircraft in sight at all times
  • Do not fly near airports - stay outside a 5-mile radius from ANY active airport/airfield
  • Remain clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
  • Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property; power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, sporting events, heavily traveled roadways
  • Stay clear of FAA temporary flight restrictions; fires, crimes scenes, sporting events
  • Follow community-based safety guidelines developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics.
  • Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property.

Operating UAS Near Centennial Airport

Centennial Airport is one of the busiest general aviation airports in the United States, with more than 300,000 take-offs and landings,each year. With a variety of operations, including business, charter, cargo, medevac, law enforcement and training, the air space around the airport can be very busy.

Operating a drone within five nautical miles of Centennial Airport is prohibited without approval from the Centennial Airport Air Traffic Control Tower. 

To find out if you are within the restricted area, you can dowload the FAA's smartphone app: B4UFLY at https://www.faa.gov/uas/b4ufly/.

The Airport Authority cannot approve requests to fly drones near the airport. Drones operate within the national airspace, and are subject to oversight and regulations from the FAA, and the Centennial Airport Air Traffic Control Tower. 

For all requests to fly within five nautical miles of the airport, drone operators must call the tower during regular business hours. Requests made after hours or on weekends may not receive an immediate answer. Please plan accordingly.

To advise the Centennial Air Traffic Control Tower that you willbe operating a drone or UAS withing the Centennial Airport Class D airspace, please call 720-873-2781.

Further Reading 

Think Before You Launch: Safety Guide for Recreational Unmanned Aircraft Users

Know Before You Fly: Unmanned Flight Safety Guide