Chicago drone laws are designed and intended to protect the public from the potential dangers of operating drones within Chicago. Chicago drone operators must adhere to a set of specific rules and regulations when flying their drones in Chicago.
Drone Laws In Chicago
You Can Fly A Drone In Most Public Places
If you’re looking to fly a drone in Chicago, you need to know that the city is within a Class B airspace. Class B airspaces are heavily regulated by the FAA’s rules and regulations. However, one major concern for drone pilots is that flying a drone in Chicago can be difficult as it’s prohibited in many areas of the city.
The good news is that flying a drone in most public places in Chicago is permitted. Also, flying drones over private property with permission from the landowner or tenant is allowed. Note: The City of Chicago prohibits flying drones near airports and at parks without prior approval from the Commissioner of Aviation.
Take Note Of The Faa’s Temporary Flight Restriction (tfr)
The FAA imposes Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) to protect people and property during national emergencies, major public events, and other safety-sensitive situations. The FAA issues the TFRs.
When you fly your drone in the United States, you must follow all requirements of Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 107. This includes TFRs issued by the FAA. If you violate a TFR, you could face serious penalties that may include fines and jail time.
A TFR can be issued for a number of reasons including:
- Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes or floods when flying can interfere with search and rescue operations or other emergency response efforts;
- Wildfires where flying can hamper firefighting efforts;
If You’re Flying A Commercial Drone, You Need To Get A License
If you plan to use your drone for commercial purposes, you need to get licensed. To qualify for the Part 107 license, you must be at least 16 years old and pass an aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved testing center.
The test costs $150, and it takes a few weeks to get results from the FAA. If you pass, your Part 107 license is valid for two years — but be aware that some states have their own requirements on top of the federal rules; check with your state if that’s relevant to you.
With a Part 107 license, you can fly in Class G airspace without prior authorization; however, operations in other airspace require approval from air traffic control. Your drone must remain within visual line of sight of the pilot or visual observer; stay away from airports, people and stadiums; keep below 400 feet above ground level; and fly no faster than 100 miles per hour.
Be Aware Of State, Local, And Town Laws About Drones
It is important to note that state, local, and town laws can be more restrictive than FAA regulations. While the FAA’s Part 107 does give you the right to fly your drone for commercial purposes, some states may have additional laws about flying drones. Local law enforcement or airport authorities may even enforce local restrictions despite what the federal law is. For example:
- Some state and local laws prohibit flying drones in certain public places like parks or beaches
- Other state and local laws restrict flying near airports and other sensitive areas
- Some state and local laws restrict operating at certain altitudes or speeds above properties without permission
Don’t fly over people or private property. Don’t fly in a way that interferes with first responders or their operations. Always keep your drone within sight, and don’t exceed 400 feet altitude or 100 mph speed. Stay away from airports, heliports, and other airspace used by manned aircraft.
Stay at least 5 miles away from major airports and 2 miles away from smaller ones, as well as heliports and seaplane bases. Do not fly near emergency response efforts such as fires.
Don’t fly near other aircraft, especially near airports. Do not fly within 5 miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying. If there is a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) in place, do not enter the area.
Always follow community-based safety guidelines and any additional rules put into place by your local government when you operate your drone in Chicago. For example, it is prohibited to operate drones:
- Over or within Chicago schools or national parks
- During nighttime hours
- In bad weather
The FAA’s “fly responsibly” page includes seven rules drone users should be sure to follow.
- Don’t fly near airports: Stick to the FAA so you can avoid being within 5 miles of an airport when you’re flying your drone.
- Don’t fly over people: Even if you plan on flying your drone in an area where there are no other people, accidents happen and people might wander into your operating zone at any time. Stay safe and stick to unpopulated areas.
- Don’t fly over 400ft: The highest a drone is allowed to fly is 400ft above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400ft AGL, within 400ft of a structure.
- Don’t fly at night: Keep things simple by only flying during the day and only in good weather conditions (not in clouds).
- Don’t fly in a way that endangers others: You are responsible for the safety of yourself, other individuals, and other aircraft while operating your drone. Only operate your drone if you know it will be safe to do so.
- Don’t fly over illegal areas: If there are areas where drones haven’t been approved for flight (such as national parks), don’t attempt it! Follow posted signs or notices that prohibit or restrict operation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Find out more about national parks here [link].
- Don’t fly over any government buildings: It goes without saying—stay away from sensitive infrastructure like power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities—and anywhere else that is emergency response locations; these locations require additional safety precautions and coordination before operations can take place
Drones Must Weigh Less Than 55lbs
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, drones must weigh less than 55 pounds. If they weigh more than that, they could injure people on the ground or damage property if they crash.
In addition to this national law, commercial drones—that is, drones being used for a paying audience or for payment—may not fly over people unless certain safety measures are taken.
Chicago Is A Good Place To Fly Drones
Chicago, home to some of the country’s best pizza and most beautiful views, is also a great place to live if you’re looking for leniency when it comes to flying drones.
Most drone owners in Chicago are pleased with the regulations surrounding their hobby, which are notably less strict than those in other areas like New York City. It’s no surprise that drone enthusiasts flock to the city on a regular basis—Chicago is one of the best places to fly a drone in the U.S., and many people agree that its drone regulations are among its best qualities.
Beyond being known as an ideal place for drone owners to both reside and own a business, Chicago has no shortage of breathtaking vistas where pilots can fly their drones safely and legally. Drone companies throughout the city offer tours of some of these sights and provide flyers with guidance on where they need be mindful of regulations.
One such company is Droney McDroneface (please note: this is not an actual Chicago-based company), which offers half-day tours of locales such as The Chicago Lakefront Trail, Millennium Park, Grant Park Lagoon, Daley Plaza, Buckingham Fountain and more!
Whether you’re new to flying or simply want a change of scenery from your usual haunts in your hometown, consider joining one of these guided tours for an unforgettable experience with fellow aviation enthusiasts!
How To Register Drone In Chicago
Go To The Faa Website
You will have to go to the FAA website and find the link that specifically states something along the lines of “register your drone.” It should be in a big banner at the top of their site, which you can get to by going here.
Fill Out Faa Form
- You’ll need to provide the FAA with your full name, address, and email address.
- You’ll also need to provide the make and model of your drone and its serial number.
- On the form, you must identify for what purpose you intend to operate your drone by selecting one of three options: hobby or recreation; public aircraft operations (public); or non-hobby operations (civil).
- If you are registering a public drone/model aircraft, be sure select “Public” as your category. If you are registering a civil drone/model aircraft, select “Civil.” If your drone is being used purely for recreational purposes, select “Hobby.”
- Finally, tell the FAA if you want to receive an electronic version of your Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership via email or postal mail. Your preferred method will not affect how quickly you receive the document.
Check Your Personal Details In Faa Form
Check Your Personal Details In Faa Form 8710-13, the airman certificate and rating form. The details to check include:
- Date of birth
- Email address
- Phone number
- Social security number (SSN) or taxpayer ID number (TIN)
- Mailing address
If you want to make a change, fill out the appropriate section in block 10 of the applications. Be sure to use ink so that your changes are legible.
Find Your Drone’s Serial Number
The serial number is usually printed on the bottom of your drone. If you can’t find it, check the manual that came with your drone. If you still can’t find it, contact manufacturer for help.
The serial number is usually 10-12 characters in length and contains a combination of numbers and letters.
Submit The Completed Drone Certificate Of Registration
After completing Section 2 of Form 8710-13, you can submit the completed form in one of two ways:
- Submit online. You can submit your drone Certificate of Registration online, but you must have an account with FAA’s Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) system.
- If you don’t already have an IACRA account, the online submission process will guide you through creating one. It takes about 10 minutes to complete the form and quiz on IACRA. Make sure to have a credit card handy when submitting the form so that you can pay a $5 registration fee at the end of the process. Also, be ready to provide additional information if prompted by IACRA for:
- Aircraft insurance policy number
- Name of aircraft owner or operator if different from certificate applicant
Are Drones Allowed In Chicago
First, The Easy Stuff
To start, it’s important to note that legally, drones are considered aircraft. So if you’re flying one, you need to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and put the registration number on the aircraft. If your drone weighs less than 0.55 pounds (250 grams), it is exempt from registration.
You can fly drones in your own backyard and on other private property with the owner’s permission. And if you want to film inside a public park, there isn’t much stopping you from doing so—although be aware that there may be crackdowns or bans in some areas during festivals or crowded events, depending on how congested things get and how many drones are already in the air.
What About Indoors?
Drones are not allowed indoors unless you’re at an indoor drone flying facility. You can fly a drone indoors if you’re under the age of 16, but only with supervision.
If you want to fly a drone indoors without supervision, you’ll need to be older than 16 and take an in-person aeronautical knowledge and safety test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center. Once you’ve passed the test, you’ll receive a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA that allows you to fly your drone without supervision in most places—including inside!
Public Drone Use In Chicago Is Officially Legal
Chicago has some rules and regulations when it comes to drone use. Anyone can fly a drone, as long as they follow the rules and guidelines put in place by Chicago officials.
Drones are not allowed near airports, at least not without an FAA waiver, and you can’t fly over groups of people or government buildings. You also cannot fly a drone in national parks unless you have a special permit from the National Park Service.
That’s A Lot Of Rules
Make sure you read the rules before you fly. For example, don’t fly in a park.
You can find more about the FAA’s rules for drones here.
That said, Chicago does have some additional regulations for drone use in its airspace. Here are the most important ones:
- If you plan to operate your drone at night or above 400 feet, then you need to obtain a waiver from federal aviation authorities.
- The Park District of Chicago prohibits flying drones within any of its properties without permission from district officials.
Is Commercial Drone Use Allowed?
If you’re looking to use your drone for commercial purposes, the skies are yours. Chicago has no specific rules regarding commercial drone use. That being said, if you do want to go this route, you will need to apply for FAA approval via [Part 107].
As of 2020 there were still thousands of people in the Chicago area with [Part 107 exemptions] (and airmen certificates for their drones. So getting the required paperwork shouldn’t be too much of a problem!
In terms of what you can do with your drone commercially, there’s a lot of potential out there. There are already inspectors who check up on wind turbines and rooftops using drones, real estate agents who take drone videos for listings, insurance agents who assess damage on roofs with drones, farmers who monitor crops with drones… You get the idea!
Be Careful When You’re Flying Your Drone In Chicago
If you’re flying a drone in Chicago, you must be aware of the regulations that govern drone use. The Federal Aviation Administration has designated airspace in most cities as Class G and B airspace. The city of Chicago is listed as Class C. This means that there are some legal requirements to consider before flying your drone within the city limits.
Chicago has been a leader in the US on regulating drones since 2013 when they passed an ordinance requiring registration for all drones weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds.
In order to fly your drone legally, you will need to register it with both the FAA and the City of Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA).
Related: Drone Laws Kansas
If you’re thinking about flying drones in or near Chicago, or if you fly them often, it’s a good idea to go over the law and regulations of drone flights in Chicago before going out. This will ensure that you have a good time with your drone, but more importantly to know how to avoid getting into trouble from some of the city law enforcement agencies.
Frequently Asked Questions (drone Laws In Chicago)
Is It Legal To Fly Drones In Chicago?
Yes, you can fly drones in Chicago. You must obey the Chicago Drone Ordinance and FAA regulations, as well as any TFRs issued for the city of Chicago. Finally, you must also obey all local laws and ordinances.
Where Are The No-fly Zones In Chicago?
It’s important to note that there are two different types of no-fly zones. The first is a federally controlled area, which includes all airports and military bases. The second type is an airspace restriction, which can be imposed by the FAA or other federal agencies.
The following are some examples of areas where you cannot fly your drone:
- All U.S. Airports – even if they’re closed and have been abandoned for years!
- Military bases (including privately-owned ones like Area 51)
- Large sporting events like the Super Bowl
- Major public events such as concerts or protests
How Do I Get Licensed To Fly A Drone Commercially In Chicago?
You’ll need to have a drone pilot certificate and commercial drone permit. If you don’t have both of these, you can’t fly commercially. You also need liability insurance for every flight, unless your employer provides it for you.
Finally, if you are going to use an operator when flying commercially in Chicago (which is highly recommended), then this person will also need a commercial drone operator certificate.
What Are The Faa Temporary Flight Restrictions (tfrs) Around Chicago?
Temporary flight restrictions are areas that are off limits to drones due to safety concerns or other reasons. They can be issued by the FAA, a state government, or local authorities. Notices to airmen (NOTAMs)—which include TFRs—are official notices issued by the FAA and published in aviation publications like NOTAMS Digest.
Can I Fly A Drone At Night In Chicago?
The short answer to this question is no, you cannot fly a drone at night in Chicago. The FAA prohibits flying drones at night unless the drone has specific approval from the FAA and is an approved flight area.
To fly a drone at night, it must be equipped with lighting that illuminates your entire field of view so that you can see where it’s going as well as anything else that could be in its path. You also have to have special training and certification on top of that.
If you’re caught flying a drone at night without proper approval and authorization, you could face serious fines or jail time depending on which state laws apply to your situation.