Agencies Responsible for regulating drones in the State of Massachusetts
FAA Drone Website: https://www.faa.gov/uas/
Updated February 19, 2022
UAS Laws – General rules for flying drones in Massachusetts
Drone operation in Massachusetts is broadly governed by The Federal USA agency responsible for drone safety, the FAA. Click here for details on FAA USA Drone Laws.
In addition, the Massachusetts state legislature has enacted supplemental rules specific to Massachusetts drone operations. The highlights are enumerated below.
Are drones allowed in Massachusetts?
Drones are allowed in Massachusetts for recreational and commercial use, subject to FAA regulations and flight controls put in place by local governments. Read on for details.
Specific additional drone use laws by the State of Massachusetts legislature
This law states that no drone can take off or land anywhere within the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) properties. That includes waterways as well as land managed by the DCR. The only exception is for emergency situations.
Specific additional UAV laws by local governments within Massachusetts
All drone operators now require written permission to fly on the Quabbin watershed. That’s according to state police Lt. Jeffrey LeBlanc. Permits specify that only FAA-registered UAVs can apply and that drone pilots must adhere to all FAA rules. Other policy (not law) demands, specify times, dates, and designated locations permitted to fly.
Pilots should contact the DCR Division of Water Supply Protection for updates.
Drone operations can only occur on a privately owned property with prior written permission from the landowner. Formal permission must include the owner’s full name, address, agreed dates (including hours of operations), and signature. Further rules exist for recreational pilots as per non-part 107 rules.
This is a City of Boston policy. It permits recreational drone operations in city parks under strict safe-flight guidelines and adherence to the FAA rules and regulations.
This city ordinance states it’s illegal to fly UAS over any city-owned or privately-owned properties without prior consent in writing.
There may be more local drone laws in the State of Massachusetts. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.
UAS operation rules in Parks, Recreation and Cultural Preserves
No specific regulations are found currently.
Specific additional UAV laws laws in Jurisdictions within Massachusetts
Counties or towns within Massachusetts may have specific restrictions within their jurisdictions. We recommend checking the local jurisdiction for the latest regulations.
Notes for recreational drone pilots flying for fun in Massachusetts
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.
Recreational UAS operations (i.e., flying for recreational purposes) in Massachusetts are approved under Federal law, specifically the FAA Part 107. Please check the specific 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.
- Fly only for recreational purposes (enjoyment).
- 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.
- 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.
- Give way to and do not interfere with crewed aircraft.
- Fly at or below 400′ in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E) with prior authorization by using LAANC or DroneZone.
- 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.
- Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
- Have a current registration, mark (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).
- 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.
Notes for operating Commercial Drone Services in Massachusetts
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.
Commercial drone operations in Massachusetts are approved under the FAA Part 107. 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- Review the entire process to get your Drone License or Remote Pilot Certificate.
- Study for the Knowledge Test by reviewing the Test Prep materials provided by the FAA.
- Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test.
- Schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
- 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)*
- 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 Cultural reserves
We suggest you contact the local parks agencies and check for specific permissions required.
Useful published information on flying drones in Massachusetts
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 Massachusetts 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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