Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall

Emergency Text

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Action:
Take-Off and Landing Unmanned Aircraft on Land Owned by a ...
Stage: Emergency/NOIRA
 
24VAC5-20-10 Definitions

Words or terms defined in § 5.1-1 of the Code of Virginia are incorporated by reference. The following words and terms when used in this regulation chapter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Aircraft" means any contrivance now known or hereafter invented that is controlled, used, and usually occupied by a person for the purpose of navigation and transportation through the air, excepting "hang glider" as defined in § 5.1-1 of the Code of Virginia. Commonly recognized names for aircraft include, but are not limited to, planes, helicopters, seaplanes, ultralights, and hot air balloons.

"Airline" means an air carrier operation under Federal Aviation Regulations 14 CFR Part 119, 14 CFR Part 121, 14 CFR Part 129, or 14 CFR Part 135 providing scheduled passenger service.

"Airport sponsor" means an entity that is legally, financially, and otherwise able to assume and carry out the certifications, representations, warranties, assurances, covenants, and other obligations required for an airport.

"Antique aircraft" means any aircraft constructed by the original manufacturer, or his licensee, on or before December 31, 1945.

"Approach surface" means a surface longitudinally centered on the extended runway centerline and extending outward and upward. An approach surface is applied to each end of each runway.

"Aviation" means activities and infrastructure related to transportation by air, including but not limited to (i) the operation, construction, repair, or maintenance of aircraft, aircraft power plants, and accessories; (ii) the establishment, design, construction, extension, operation, improvement, repair, or maintenance of airports or landing areas; and (iii) navigable airspace, other air navigation facilities, and air instruction.

"Commercial operator" means a person, except an airline, who operates any aircraft for the purpose of rental or charter or for other purposes from which revenue is derived.

"Contract carrier permit" means a permit issued by the department to contract carriers operating under Federal Aviation Regulations 14 CFR Part 61, 14 CFR Part 135, or 14 CFR Part 141 for transport of passengers or freight on demand by air. Owners of aircraft who contract to provide flight instruction in their aircraft for profit are required to have a contract carrier permit.

"Day/VFR Use Only License" means a conditional airport license issued with the restriction that operations at the airport can only occur between sunrise and sunset and only under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) for the purpose of allowing continuing operations at an airport that is not in compliance with the minimum requirement for approach surfaces.

"Department" means the Virginia Department of Aviation.

"Effective runway length" means the distance from the point at which the obstruction clearance plane associated with the approach end of the runway intersects the centerline of the runway and the far end thereof.

"Hazard" means a fixed or mobile structure or object, natural growth, or use of land that obstructs the airspace required for the flight of aircraft in landing or taking off at an airport or is otherwise hazardous to the landing or taking off of aircraft.

"Helipad" means a small designated area, usually with a prepared surface, on an airport, heliport, landing/takeoff area, apron/ramp, or movement area used for the takeoff, landing, or parking of helicopters.

"Heliport" means (i) an identifiable area on land, water, or structure, including a building or facilities thereon, used or intended to be used for the landing and takeoff of helicopters or other rotorcraft or (ii) appurtenant areas that are used, or intended for use, for heliport buildings or other heliport facilities including rights-of-way, easements, and all heliport buildings and facilities located thereon.

"Noncommercial dealer" means a person who owns and offers for sale a minimum of three aircraft during any consecutive 12-month period, which aircraft are not used for personal use, rental, charter, or for a purpose from which revenue is derived.

"Obstacle" means a fixed or mobile object that interferes with the situating or operation of navigational aids or that may control the establishment of instrument procedures. An obstacle could be located on an area intended for the ground movement of aircraft or would extend above the approach surfaces intended to protect aircraft in flight or the runway object free area.

"Obstruction" means an object, obstacle, or structure that penetrates the approach surfaces or runway object free area at an aircraft landing area. The obstruction may be man-made or of natural growth, including trees.

"Obstruction clearance plane" means a plane sloping upward from the runway at a slope meeting the appropriate requirements to clear all obstructions within a specified area as shown in a profile view of that area.

"Private-Use Landing Area License" means a license issued for a facility not open for public use, including airports, heliports, helipads, and seaplane bases, that is within five nautical miles of a licensed public-use airport, in accordance with § 5.1-7 of the Code of Virginia.

"Runway" means a rectangular surface area that may be turf, paved, or water course that is designed specifically for the purpose of approaching and landing and taking-off and departing of aircraft.

"Runway object free area" means an imaginary area centered on the runway centerline that is clear of aboveground objects protruding above the runway centerline, except for allowable objects necessary for air navigation or aircraft ground maneuvering purposes.

"Runway safety area" means a rectangular area symmetrical about the runway centerline, which includes the runway, runway shoulders, and safety overruns, if present. The portion abutting the edge of the runway shoulders, runway ends, and safety overruns is cleared, drained, graded, and usually turfed. Under normal conditions, the runway safety area is capable of supporting snow removal, firefighting, and rescue equipment and of accommodating the occasional passage of aircraft without causing major damage to the aircraft.

"Safety overrun'' or "stopway" means an area beyond the takeoff runway, no less wide than the runway and centered upon the extended centerline of the runway, able to support an aircraft during an aborted takeoff without causing structural damage to the aircraft and designated by the airport authorities for use in decelerating the aircraft during an aborted takeoff.

"Seaplane base" means an area of water used or intended to be used for the landing and takeoff of aircraft, together with appurtenant shoreside buildings and facilities.

"Structure" means (i) a man-made object, including a mobile object, constructed or erected by man, including but not limited to buildings, towers, cranes, smokestacks, earth formations, overhead transmission lines, flag poles, and ship masts or (ii) natural objects, including but not limited to trees.

"Threshold" means the beginning of that portion of the runway identified for the landing of aircraft. A threshold may be displaced, or moved down the runway, to provide for adequate safety provisions.

"UAS" means unmanned aircraft system.

"Ultralight" means an aircraft that (i) is used or intended to be used for manned operation in the air by a single occupant; (ii) is used or intended to be used for recreation and sport purposes only; (iii) does not have a United States or foreign air worthiness certificate; (iv) weighs less than 254 pounds empty weight, excluding floats and safety devices that are intended for deployment in a potentially catastrophic situation; (v) has a fuel capacity not exceeding five United States gallons; and (vi) is not capable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight and has a power-off stall speed that does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed.

"Unmanned aircraft" means an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of human intervention from within or on the aircraft.

24VAC5-20-410 Definitions for Part VIII, Unmanned Aircraft

The following words and terms, when used in this part, shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Commercial operator" means a person operating a UAS for a commercial purpose in compliance with applicable FAA regulations.

"Emergency response personnel" means the officials and employees of governmental and nongovernmental entities responding to or supporting emergency response operations, including search and rescue, law enforcement, hazardous materials, fires, car crashes, and natural or man-made disasters.

"Locality" or "local government" means a county, city, or town.

"Operator" means the person who is directly responsible for the operation of an unmanned aircraft.

"Property owned" means any real property owned through fee interest, together with all buildings and other structures, facilities, or improvements located on the real property.

"Political subdivision" means (i) a locality, (ii) a school division, or (iii) any park authority, jail authority, or airport authority that has the power to enact or promulgate ordinances, or regulations having the force or effect of law.

"Recreational operator" means a person who is operating an unmanned aircraft solely for a recreational purpose and is fully in compliance with 49 USC § 44809.

24VAC5-20-420 Political subdivision powers

A. Any political subdivision may regulate the take-off and landing of an unmanned aircraft on property owned by the political subdivision, in a manner consistent with this part. All regulations of any political subdivision, whether enacted by ordinance or resolution by a locality or adopted by a political subdivision other than a locality, must comply with this part of this chapter.

B. The regulations may provide for times when take-offs and landings are allowed.

C. The regulations may designate specific properties of increased concern for public safety or risk to natural resources where an operator seeking to use the property must show (i) the purpose of the take-off and landing, (ii) what steps the operator will take to limit risk to the public or to natural resources, and (iii) information to demonstrate that the take-off and landing can be carried out safely. On such properties, the regulation may deny permission to take-off or land unmanned aircraft, unless the operator can demonstrate the safety of the take-off and landing, based on the information provided.

Prior to designating any properties pursuant to this subsection, the political subdivision must show the basis for the designation. The designation must be based on a significant and specific risk to public safety or to natural resources. Every area designated pursuant to this subsection must include a map showing, with specificity, the area of prohibited use. The map and any related documents must be provided in electronic, computable, machine-readable, and transmissible form.

D. For unmanned aircraft with a takeoff weight of 55 pounds or more, the regulations may require the operator to provide information prior to any take-off or landing, demonstrating the safety of the take-off and landing.

E. No political subdivision shall require a permit for operators for take-off and landing unmanned aircraft in areas designated for unmanned aircraft use. This subsection shall not apply to unmanned aircraft covered by subsection C of this section.

F. No subdivision shall regulate the take-off and landing of unmanned aircraft with a ready-for-take-off weight of less than 0.55 pounds, except on properties regulated pursuant to the authority in subsection B of this section.

G. Any political subdivision may provide or participate in offering UAS classes, competitions, and similar events on its property.

24VAC5-20-430 Procedure for adopting an ordinance or regulation

A. Any locality that proposes to regulate the take-off and landing of unmanned aircraft shall enact such regulations by ordinance or resolution. Any other political subdivision shall adopt regulations for such purposes.

B. No proposed ordinance or regulation may be advertised for a public hearing until the political subdivision has submitted the regulation to the department for comment and the department has notified the political subdivision that the regulations are consistent with this chapter.

C. A locality may regulate the use of unmanned aircraft by ordinance or resolution. The locality shall hold a public hearing prior to adoption of regulations. The locality shall advertise the hearing and the substance of the regulations on the locality website for a minimum of 14 days, displayed where public hearings are set out on the locality's website and shall include the advertising in the applicable social media feeds of the locality for the same period of time. The regulations must be based on findings of need for public safety protection or protection of specific natural resources.

D. Any political subdivision other than a locality shall hold a public hearing prior to adoption of regulations. The other political subdivision shall advertise the hearing and the substance of the regulations on the subdivision's website for a minimum of 14 days, displayed where public hearings are set out on the political subdivision's website and shall include notice of the advertising in the applicable social media feeds of the subdivision for the same period of time. The regulations must be based on findings of need for public safety enhancement protection or protection of specific natural resources.

E. Every political subdivision shall report the adoption of any regulation permitted by this chapter to the Department of Aviation within 14 days of adoption. The report shall include an electronic copy of the regulations, policies, maps, and any other documents related to the regulations with links to the political subdivision's regulations. No regulation shall take effect until it is published on the department's website.

F. The department will publish all new or revised regulations or provide links to the political subdivision's website pages containing such information within 14 days of receipt from the political subdivision. The department shall publish and update annually on its website, and any other website the department deems appropriate, a summary of any such regulations adopted.

G. If, at any time, the department deems a political subdivision's local regulation to be inconsistent with this chapter, the department will inform the subdivision of the discrepancies. The political subdivision shall amend its regulation to eliminate the discrepancies.

24VAC5-20-440 Exceptions

A. No ordinance or regulation may prohibit:

1. The take-off or landing of an unmanned aircraft by a commercial operator in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations or as deemed reasonable or necessary by private or public entities for emergency or maintenance support functions or services, including the protection and maintenance of public or private critical infrastructure;

2. The landing of an unmanned aircraft by an operator in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations as deemed reasonable or necessary by the operator in the event of a technical malfunction of an unmanned aircraft system;

3. The take-off or landing of an unmanned aircraft being operated by a sworn public safety officer or other emergency response personnel in the performance of the public safety officer's duties;

4. The take-off or landing of an unmanned aircraft owned or operated by the United States government, or any operator under contract with any agency of the United States government, in performance of the officer's assigned duties;

5. The take-off or landing of an unmanned aircraft by a commercial operator done as a part of the response to an emergency declared by the Governor or a local emergency declared pursuant to the laws of the Commonwealth; or

6. The take-off or landing of unmanned aircraft by employees and agents of a political subdivision on the political subdivision's lands.

B. No political subdivision's local regulation enacted pursuant to the authority in this chapter shall apply to take-offs and landings on the vehicular travel portions of public highways or streets.

C. If a private entity has exclusive use of more than one-half acre of public property for a specific event, such as a concert, sports activity, or family event, any local regulation may allow the entity to launch and land its own unmanned aircraft at the event and may allow an operator employed by the entity to launch and land unmanned aircraft during the event on that property, only.

24VAC5-20-450 Federal laws and regulations

Nothing in this chapter shall allow any use of unmanned aircraft in any manner inconsistent with the federal laws and regulations, including Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.