Why it’s (mostly) illegal to drone in NYC
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Why it’s (mostly) illegal to drone in NYC

December 9, 2019

Hey indie filmmakers, Griffin here. New York is a beautiful city, but for
a drone pilot, it is nearly impossible to fly over. That’s why I am just
north in Westchester County, where I am legally allowed to fly. Today we’ll look at the drone rules that
make New York more restrictive than most American cities. But there are some exceptions—five
New York City parks where you can fly. I guess I’m a “real” drone
pilot. I have my FAA Part 107 certification, which allows me to earn money from
my flights, and I can fly in some locations that hobbyists can’t. But wherever I go, the question
“Can I fly here?” is always complicated. It’s really four questions. Am I following FAA rules? Can I take off and land from this property? Am I cleared for this airspace? And are there any local laws stopping me? Sadly, in most of New York
City I would fail all four. The FAA says you can’t fly drones
over people unless those people are operating the drones, and New York City is the most densely
populated place in the United States. So good luck finding a flight path
that doesn’t travel over a person. So you might think go to a park with
some open space. Problem is the New York City parks have their
own regulations prohibiting aircraft. You are not allowed to take
off or land on NYC park property. Okay, so what if we take off from
somewhere else and just fly over a park? Now we need to check our airspace maps
to make sure it’s cool with the FAA. AirMap is a great tool
for looking at airspace restrictions. These big blue circles represent the
controlled airspace above LaGuardia and JFK Airports. A lot of New York City
is covered by this Class B airspace. Makes sense because this is what happens
when a drone hits an airplane wing. So theoretically I could fly outside this
ring in parts of Manhattan or Brooklyn without asking the FAA. Inside the blue I need FAA authorization,
which I can request because I’m a certified pilot. These numbers represent low altitude ceilings.
If I apply to fly under 200 feet right here the FAA
will grant me near-instant approval through a system called LAANC. One place I definitely can’t fly
is midtown Manhattan. This is a TFR, a temporary flight restriction
over Trump Tower. He’s president, so his New York residence is a
no-fly zone with a radius of one nautical mile. So what if I find a sparsely
populated spot in Lower Manhattan, where I don’t need FAA authorization, and a friendly property owner lets me
fly above their building with no pedestrians underneath? Can I fly there? No. According to NYC.gov, “Drones are illegal to fly in New York City.” And if you see one, “call 911.” Well, that sucks. It’s not a clearly defined law
passed by any legislative body. Just a sentence the city wrote
on its website in 2016. And it’s hard to know what penalty I
could face for a normal, safe flight because the people getting arrested are the
ones crashing into buildings— [ABC7 News] A tourist is is trouble
after crashing a drone through a window of a building
near Times Square. [Griffin] —usually for misdemeanors like reckless
endangerment and property damage. As a side note, in addition
to facing city justice, the FAA usually fines reckless drone crashers $2,200. Clearly drones can be dangerous in
a city this densely populated, but this city administrative code – “Drones
are illegal” – sounds overly broad, vague and ripe for a legal challenge. Under the perfect circumstances, I might feel
it’s my federally granted right to fly in New York City. Let’s say a business in
Brooklyn hires me to fly over their empty parking lot. Yes, I would worry that a neighbor could
call 911. But if the flight is safe and within uncontrolled airspace, I would
feel like I’m operating within my legal rights. And maybe that city administrative
code is infringing on my liberties. But that is why I am up in Yonkers, just outside
the New York City limits to avoid this hassle Between the population, the park restrictions,
the two major airports and the blanket city ban on drones, it’s just
easier to do my flying outside the city. That being said, there are five exceptions
in New York City: five parks in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island that
have designated model aircraft fields. The two in Brooklyn require a paid membership
to fly. But if you have to fly in NYC, these are the only spots
the city says you can. For now. Thanks for watching. I have
a few links in the description, including the park website that shows
where you can fly, and check out the premiere of my new show on Indy Mogul,
“Cheap Thing vs. Expensive Thing.” In the first episode, I’m testing a $1500 Mavic Pro versus its $50 knockoff.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Damn, that footage of the drone hitting the airplane wing. To be honest, I'm glad people can't fly drones over NYC at will. If permitted, can you imagine how many morons….I mean "inexperienced pilots" would be crashing into buildings/people?

  2. Are you kidding me? The FAA doesn't give a shit where you fly if they did they would enforce these so-called rules/regulations. LOL

  3. Nice to see Griffin has expanded the usage of the word "drone". He did the same with "filmmaker" many years ago and incurred the wrath of one commentator. ?

  4. Yeah, pretty soon it will only be allowed for big boy commercial operations like Amazon and FedEx that will rule the skies over Par 107'ers, you'll see.

  5. great video bro so educative and well explained, thanks for sharing your knowledge with the comunity, i always hear casey saying AFA i mnot flying a drone or is a toy dron donot bother me anymore, now i know why

  6. 2:00, Nope, this is what happens when they use impossible speeds to pretty much fake the outcome; the combined speed of the collision is greater than the drone and aircraft that wing came from could actually achieve, resulting in fraudulent findings of that 'research'. It's literally faking the result of a collision in order to justify heavy-handed legislation, as discussed in detail here: https://www.dji.com/uk/newsroom/news/dji-demands-withdrawal-of-misleading-drone-collision-video The dangers of drones colliding with aircraft has been grossly exaggerated, likewise the damage they could do.

  7. This was pretty amazing and very informative. Just wondering hypothetically of course if I was to fly my drone over the East River back in 2016 for non commercial purposes that would be ok right? Just asking for a friend.

  8. Brilliant! Griffin you are running at full speed! I am so happy to see you develop in this medium. This is one of your best videos ever. You are a star now, soon to be Superstar. I truly admire your work. Best, Terme

  9. Great video! Very informative. If I may add, there's a 5th reason why you can't fly drones in NYC. A 70-year-old NYC law says: "It shall be unlawful for any person [n]avigating an aircraft to take off or land, except in an emergency, at any place within the limits of the city other than places of landing designated by the department of transportation or the port of New York authority." For more info and link to the actual law, google "Outdated NYC law prohibits drone flying in the city".

  10. I live in Staten Island and I’ve had cops approach me and ask questions and actually enjoyed watching. As far as Brooklyn some give issues but I challenge my federal rights and most of the time I win.

  11. You will be surprised to know how much "hobbyist" pilots actually own their FAA part 107, probably way more than actual professional aerial pilots or other professional youtubers/vloggers out there 🙂
    No multirotors ever hit an airplane wing and i don't think it will be even possible in real time situations, that's just crazy fantasy from most anti-drone ignorant people in their political agenda lol
    Great video as always! You portrayed the limits and the hassles of UAVs regulations pretty well and the reality of the situation is that these regulations don't even make flying this type of aircrafts even safer 😉
    Have a great weekend and keep on flying legally and safely 🙂

  12. Is there any more info on reason #4? It sounds like there's no law linked to it, just something someone wrote on an official website.

  13. Thanks for this informative vid! From what I gather here (and by looking at Airmap and knowing the regs) it would seem that, while NYC allows drone flight, Flushing Meadows Corona and Forest Park are in Class-B airspace and definitely require FAA notification, correct? Airmap has LAANC built in. In your video, it seems that you implied that getting LAANC permission in Class-B was something that only people with commercial UAS license could do, but I suspect that recreational (non-licensed) operators can do the same – provided that their drones are fed registered, correct?
    Thanks for your help!

  14. besides manhattan i fly my drone all over nyc through the blessings of god i havent ran into dickhead cops and i have multiple cops saying its NOT illegal and they didnt care if i flew it on video

  15. Great video, very informative. But some of the less are real bullshit, I understand not flying near airports, near trump tower or other governmental buildings, but what's the problem with flying in parks or in between those blues zones. Dumbshits just like to ban everything that they don't understand.

  16. Most people who flew their Drones in NY all crashed, No wonder they made it a strict rule. it's always idiots ruining it for others smh.

  17. Can we fly starting from Roosevelt Island and staying over water under 400 feet? I do the same here at Montreal often starting from near st-lawrence river and stay over water during my flight, never have problems, i have perfect downtown view :).

  18. Well their goes my illusions of getting me a drone ?‍♂️ was just about to buy one just now but if I can’t use it y get it

  19. lots of policy in the big apple sadly policy is not law, lots of these policy could be challenge in the court of law if you have the money and the time, that drone flaying into a wing, is bias and its stage for publicity purposes the media loves to exaggerate. almost 20 years later NYC still has 911 phobia and the topic does comes up a lot. yes they will call cops on you if you have a big back pack. or fly a drone.

  20. Do not take that rule to serious, also electric bikes are forbidden in NYC and they do not get tickets. I guess only is you damage property you get in trouble.

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