News Releases

7/25/2017: New Drone Laws to Take Effect

New Drone Laws to Take Effect

Posted 7/25/2017 2:37:35 PM

RALEIGH – As drones, also known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), become more common, North Carolina’s laws are changing to stay up-to-date with this fast-growing industry.  Governor Roy Cooper has signed two bills sent to his desk by the General Assembly, one revising existing laws and one new law to ensure that drone operation remains safe. House Bill 128 prohibits drone use near prisons. Near is defined as a horizontal distance of 500 feet or a vertical distance of 250 feet. NCDOT will place signs marking these boundaries. The law goes into effect Dec. 1. House Bill 337 revises existing state drone laws. The language of the law has been changed to clarify that UAS laws will now apply to model aircraft as well. This part of the law also goes into effect on Dec. 1. Model aircraft users are still exempt from the state’s permitting requirements. Other changes in the law serve to streamline North Carolina regulations with federal regulations. The minimum age for getting a commercial permit to operate UAS will now be the age federal law stipulates, which is currently 16. Additionally, people wishing to obtain a commercial permit can use any government-issued form of photo identification allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. This section of the law became effective immediately. The revisions also loosen restrictions on the use of UAS in emergency management. The law permits emergency management agencies to use drones for all activities related to emergency management and removes the restriction on the use of special imaging technology. The use of technologies such as thermal and infrared was previously only permitted for scientific purposes. The removal of the restriction allows private and commercial operators to assist law enforcement with emergency management efforts such as search and rescue operations. The UAS Knowledge Test Study Guide has been updated to reflect these changes and is available on the N.C. Division of Aviation website, along with information on how to ensure you are compliant with current regulations. ***NCDOT***
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3/29/2017: NC Student Places in National Aviation Art Contest

NC Student Places in National Aviation Art Contest

Posted 3/29/2017 1:53:19 PM

RALEIGH – Green Hope High School student Cameron Fitz is being recognized for placing third at the national level in the 2017 Aviation Art Contest. Fitz, 17, placed second in this year’s state competition, sponsored by the N.C. Department of Transportation's Division of Aviation. Fitz’s artwork was sent to Switzerland, where it will now compete in the international contest.  “Cameron’s artwork is an impressive representation of the theme ‘Beyond the Clouds,’” said Division of Aviation Director Bobby Walston. “We are proud to see a North Carolina student advance to the international contest.”  The artwork for the national competition was judged for originality, creativity and use of the theme. Winners will receive ribbons and a framed reproduction of their artwork. The national competition’s panel of judges included former U.S. Representative to Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and former NASA Education Coordinator Debbie Gallaway, educator and artist Margaret Finch, National Aeronautic Association Director of Awards and Events Stephanie Berry, and Smithsonian Institution National Air & Space Museum Specialist and Photographer Carolyn Russo. The top finishers in each category of the national contest include: JUNIOR First Place: Katherine Lee, New Jersey Second Place: Gabriel Sanedrin, California Third Place: Oliver Chen, New York INTERMEDIATE First Place: Sophia Shin, California Second Place: Jennifer Meng, Michigan Third Place:  Kelly Xu, Texas SENIOR First Place: Sky Waters, Minnesota Second Place: Mira Hirabayashi, California Third Place: Cameron Fitz, North Carolina
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2/17/2017: 2017 NC Aviation Art Contest Winners Announced

2017 NC Aviation Art Contest Winners Announced

Posted 2/17/2017 4:32:59 PM

RALEIGH – Nine students from communities throughout North Carolina are being recognized for their original artwork submitted to the 2017 Aviation Art Contest. More than a thousand students participated in this year’s competition, sponsored by the N.C. Department of Transportation's Division of Aviation. “This contest gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their creativity while learning more about aviation and aeronautics in the state,” said Division of Aviation Director Bobby Walston. “We are pleased to see a record number of participants.” The state competition drew 1,007 entries from students representing 144 hometowns and 99 schools. In the last three years, nearly 2,200 students have submitted artwork to the division. The annual contest offers all children who live in or attend school in North Carolina the chance to explore different aspects of aviation. This year, participants were asked to create original artworks inspired by the theme "Beyond the Clouds." Entries are divided into three age groups. The top three entries in each age group advance to National Association of State Aviation Officials in Washington, DC, as part of the national and international contest.  Click here to view a video of this year’s winning entries or here for a photo gallery. The top finishers in each category, with their schools, hometowns and ages are: JUNIOR First Place: Akshara Ananth, Providence Spring Elementary, Charlotte; age 9 Second Place: Abirami Govindarajan, Providence Spring Elementary, Charlotte; age 10 Third Place: Avni Choudepally, Cedar Fork Elementary, Morrisville; age 7 INTERMEDIATE  First Place: Anthony Oman, Salem Middle, Cary; age 14 Second Place: Alyssa Housden, Anne Chesnutt Middle, Fayetteville; age 14 Third Place: Bobby Carter, Crestdale Middle, Charlotte; age 14 SENIOR First Place: Emma Kerns, Liberty Preparatory Christian Academy, Sherrills Ford; age 17 Second Place: Cameron Fitz, Green Hope High, Cary; age 17 Third Place: Ashley Inman, Lee County High, Sanford; age 15 Visit the Aviation Art Contest website for information about the competition.
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2/1/2017: NCDOT Works to Integrate Drones in Emergency Response

NCDOT Works to Integrate Drones in Emergency Response

Posted 2/1/2017 6:26:04 AM

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation is exploring how to best implement unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, into future disaster relief efforts. The department’s Division of Aviation recently collaborated with nearly 50 state and local government agencies and industry researchers for a three-day workshop, which included interactive demonstrations of drone operations in simulated scenarios.   “Our goal is to ensure that drones flying within North Carolina are flown safely and responsibly,” said Aviation Division Director Bobby Walston. “A better understanding of drone capabilities and evolving regulations will give emergency management professionals tools to safely use this technology during disasters and routine operations.” Without proper coordination, drone operators can unintentionally interfere with emergency management operations. A goal of the exercise was to organize communications with the public, to ensure hobbyist drones do not hinder disaster relief efforts. The workshop was organized by the NCDOT Division of Aviation and North Carolina State University’s Next Generation Air Transportation Consortium, within the school’s Institute for Transportation Research and Education. The team is leading research and testing efforts to safely integrate drones into the National Airspace System.  The Federal Aviation Administration has exclusive authority over the use of airspace in the United States, including the airspace used by drones. NCDOT has authority to implement and manage regulations that pertain to state laws concerning operations within North Carolina. North Carolina has more than 15,000 registered drones, which is almost double the number of registered manned aircraft. A report on best practices for natural disaster response will be available in March.
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12/6/2016: Don’t Let Your Drone Land You on the Naughty List this Holiday Season

Don’t Let Your Drone Land You on the Naughty List this Holiday Season

Posted 12/6/2016 4:27:31 PM

RALEIGH – One of the gifts most likely to top wish lists for kids and adults alike this holiday season is a drone. Retailers estimate as many as 1.2 million unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, will be sold by the end of December, a 112 percent increase over last year. The N.C. Department of Transportation wants to help recreational drone operators stay off the naughty list with a set of safety tips. “Flying a drone is thrilling and fun, but it can also be dangerous if not used responsibly,” Aviation Division Director Bobby Walston said. “These guidelines help ensure the safety of people in the air and on the ground while enjoying this activity.” State officials and industry groups have established a number of safety guidelines for recreational drone use that should be followed before taking to the skies: Always fly below an altitude of 400 feet and fly within your direct line of sight. Do not fly within 5 miles of an airport, near stadiums or other public events, or for compensation. Do not fly drones that weigh more than 55 pounds. Do not fly at night, even if your drone is equipped with lights. Do take lessons before flying. Most people who receive a drone this holiday season will use it solely for recreational purposes. The Federal Aviation Administration requires drone owners to register their drone at online at registermyuas.faa.gov. Failure to register carries civil and criminal penalties. Drone operators should keep in mind that North Carolina has laws governing drone use, whether it be for recreational, commercial or government purposes. Current and potential drone owners can find more information about state and federal drone regulations on the Division of Aviation’s website at ncdot.gov/aviation/uas.
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