Drone Laws in LA

Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in Los Angeles

Federal Aviation Administration

FAA Drone Website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/

California State Laws – Text Search of California Laws 

Updated March 31, 2022


UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Los Angeles

Drone operation in Los Angeles is broadly governed by The Federal USA agency responsible for drone safety, the FAA. Click here for details on FAA USA Drone Laws

The CA State and LA County legislatures have enacted several supplemental rules specific to Los Angeles drone operations. Click here for details on CA State Drone Laws.

The highlights of Los Angeles UAS regulations are enumerated below.

Can you fly a drone in Los Angeles?

Drones are allowed in Los Angeles for recreational and commercial use, subject to FAA regulations and flight controls put in place by local governments. Read on for details.

Specific additional LA Drone Laws

Los Angeles Drone Regulations

The following shall apply to the operation of any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles:

  1. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles and within 5 miles of an airport without the prior express authorization of the airport air traffic control tower.
  2. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles in a manner that interferes with manned aircraft, and shall always give way to any manned aircraft.
  3. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles beyond the visual line of sight of the person operating the Model Aircraft. The operator must use his or her own natural vision (which includes vision corrected by standard eyeglasses or contact lenses) to observe the Model Aircraft. People other than the operator may not be used in lieu of the operator for maintaining visual line of sight. Visual line of sight means that the operator has an unobstructed view of the Model Aircraft. The use of vision-enhancing devices, such as binoculars, night vision goggles, powered vision magnifying devices, and goggles or other devices designed to provide a “first-person view” from the model, do not constitute the visual line of sight of the person operating the Model Aircraft.
  4. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles other than during daylight hours defined as between official sunrise and official sunset for local time.
  5. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles more than 400 feet above the earth’s surface.
  6. Excluding takeoff and landing, no Person shall operate any Model Aircraft within the City of Los Angeles closer than 25 feet to any individual, except the operator or the operator’s helper(s).

The following shall apply to the operation of any Model Aircraft or Civil UAS within the City of Los Angeles:

  1. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft or Civil UAS within the City of Los Angeles in a manner that is prohibited by any federal statute or regulation governing aeronautics.
  2. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft or Civil UAS within the City of Los Angeles in violation of any temporary flight restriction (TFR) or notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
  3. No Person shall operate any Model Aircraft or Civil UAS within the City of Los Angeles in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another. The standard for what constitutes careless and reckless operation under this section shall be the same as the standard set forth in any federal statutes or regulations governing aeronautics including but not limited to Federal Aviation Rule 91.13

Changes Coming in the Future

California State Legislature has taken up and is considering a number of proposed bills. We highly recommend checking with the local jurisdiction for the latest information.


Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in LA

If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly recreationally by following the Drone Laws in the USA defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines, however, Los Angeles has specific restrictions listed below.

Recreational drone operations in Los Angeles are approved under FAA Part 107 but restricted in Los Angeles as per local rules. Please check the specific city and state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.

Following these rules will keep you and your drone safe and will help keep the airspace available to everyone.

  1. Fly only for recreational purposes (enjoyment). 
  2. Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO). Note: We have not yet begun officially recognizing CBOs. Recreational flyers should follow the safety guidelines of existing aeromodelling organizations or use the FAA-provided safety guidelines per Advisory Circular 91-57B.
  3. Keep your drone within the visual line of sight or use a co-located visual observer (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
  4. Give way to and do not interfere with crewed aircraft.
  5. Fly at or below 400′ in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E) with prior authorization by using LAANC or DroneZone.
  6. Fly at or below 400 feet in Class G (uncontrolled) airspace. Note: Drone flights may be prohibited in certain airspace or may require FAA authorization. A drone pilot can find navigable airspace, other Classes of airspace, and flying restrictions on our B4UFLY app or the UAS Facility Maps webpage.
  7. Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
  8. Have a current registrationmark (PDF) your drones on the outside with the registration number, and carry proof of registration with you. For recreational flyers, the FAA does not require you to register or mark a drone which weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams).
  9. Do not dangerously operate your drone. For example:
    • Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
    • Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
    • Avoid flying near or over critical infrastructure.

Recreational drone pilots should know that if they intentionally violate any of these safety requirements and/or operate their drone flight carelessly or recklessly, they could be liable for criminal and/or civil penalties.

Hobbyist rules in California Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Drones in State Wilderness Areas, Natural Preserves, and Cultural Preserves:
State Park regulations prohibit the use of motorized equipment (including UASs) within wilderness areas, cultural preserves, and natural preserves (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, § 4351.) Therefore, drone users should always check the designation of the park unit before operating a drone.

Recreational Drones:
California State Parks recommends that recreational drone users check with their local State Park District before operating a UAS within a State Park. Each park unit may have its own posted orders. Even absent a posted order on drones, it is within the discretion of park staff to contact drone operators when drones threaten visitors, property, wildlife, or privacy. If a drone operator continues to fly in a dangerous or reckless manner, they may be asked to stop flying and remove the drone from park boundaries.


Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in LA

If you have a small unmanned aircraft that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly for work or business by following the Drone Laws in the USA defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines, however, LA Drone Laws have specific restrictions listed below.

Commercial drone operations in CA State are approved under the FAA Part 107 but restricted in Los Angeles as per local rules. Please check the specific state jurisdiction for additional permissions, licensing, or clearance requirements.

There are three main steps drone owners must follow To fly under Part 107 rules:

Step 1: Learn the Rules

  1. Make sure you understand what is and is not allowed under Part 107 rules. Review a summary of the Part 107 rules (PDF). Still unsure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended UAS operation? Check the FAA user identification tool.
  2. Some operations are not covered by Part 107 and will require a waiver. Here are some common examples of Part 107 sections that are subject to waiver:
    • Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft (§ 107.25) *
    • Daylight operation (§ 107.29)
    • Visual line of sight aircraft operation (§ 107.31) *
    • Visual observer (§ 107.33)
    • Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems (§ 107.35)
    • Yielding the right of way (§ 107.37(a))
    • Operation over people (§ 107.39)
    • Operation in certain airspace (§ 107.41)
    • Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft (§ 107.51) 
    • *The FAA will not waive this section to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
    • If your operation will require a waiver, read about the Part 107 Waiver application process.
  3. Commercial Drone Pilots should avoid flying near airports because it is difficult for manned aircraft to see and avoid a drone while flying. Remember that the UAS operator must avoid crewed aircraft and are responsible for any safety hazard their drone creates in an airport environment. Read more about flying near airports.

Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test

  1. To be eligible to get your Drone License (Remote Pilot Certificate), you must be:
    • At least 16 years old
    • Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
    • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS
  2. Review the entire process to get your Drone License or Remote Pilot Certificate.
  3. Study for the Knowledge Test by reviewing the Test Prep materials provided by the FAA.
  4. Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test.
  5. Schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
  6. Once you’ve passed your test, complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
  7. You are now eligible to operate as a commercial drone pilot

Step 3: Register your drone with the FAA

  • Registration costs $5 and is valid for three years. You’ll need a credit or debit card and the make and model of your drone handy to register.
  • Visit dronezone.faa.gov and select “Fly sUAS under Part 107” to create an account and register your drone.
  • Once you’ve registered, mark your drone (PDF) with your registration number if it gets lost or stolen.

Commercial rules in Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Commercial Drones:
The FAA requires commercial drone operators to receive special authorization; either a Section 333 Exemption or a Special Airworthiness Certificate. The FAA defines commercial drone use as, among other things: filming for hire; selling aerial photography or videography; inspections for hire; surveying for hire, or flying to further a business purpose. Operating a drone for commercial purposes within a state park also requires a permit. Commercial Drone users must submit a copy of their FAA authorization to the appropriate State Park District(s). Depending on the proposed use, the District Superintendent may require a Special Event permit, Right of Entry permit, or other approval. Further, commercial photography or filming within State Park also requires a permit from the California Film Commission. (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, § 4316.)

Research Drones:
Drones may prove a valuable tool for scientific research and surveys. The operation of a drone for research purposes requires approval from the FAA. Before operating a drone for research purposes within a state park, please submit a copy of your FAA authorization to the appropriate State Park District(s). California State Parks requires a scientific collection permit (DPR 65) for any scientific research and surveys within a State Park.

Public Agency Drones:
The FAA requires public entities to obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to operate public aircraft. Before operating a drone for governmental purposes within a state park, please submit a copy of your COA to the appropriate State Park District(s).


Useful published information on flying drones in Los Angeles

We have partnered with the FAA and other drone enthusiasts in supporting an internet educational campaign called Know Before You Fly. The tips, pointers, and resources apply to Los Angeles Drone Users also. Please visit the site for additional information: Know Before You Fly

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International – Mostly for commercial drone service providers and users.

Academy of Model Aeronautics – Mostly for hobbyists

NOTE: Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (SUAS), Small UAS, Remote Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), and drone are interchangeable terms unless specified. Model aircraft, toy aircraft, Remote controlled aircraft, and RC aircraft may be covered by the same regulations unless specified.


Traveling with a Drone?

Click here to read our Comprehensive Guide For Traveling With A Drone



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IMPORTANT NOTE

The content on this site (The latest Drone Laws/Drone Regulations) is collated by volunteers from public general information. This material is not presented as legal advice of any kind, and we cannot guarantee that the information is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. Do not substitute the information you find here for legal advice from a licensed attorney who is authorized to practice in the jurisdiction. When in doubt, contact the local aviation authority responsible for drone safety, utilize a licensed drone service operator, and/or consult a qualified attorney.

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