Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) are an increasingly popular tool in the production industry. As the use of UAS is so new, the regulations pertaining to them are continually evolving. UAS are sometimes also referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or Drones.

City of Austin allows the use of UAS for filming. In April 2015, the Austin Police Department (APD) issued the following training announcement related to the enforcement of unmanned aircraft systems: APD Drone Information Sheet.

As stated in the information sheet, the police will enforce if “unsafe operation of UAS over or near events with a large number of people, such as sporting events, races, outdoor concerts, and other special events” or “the operator of an aircraft may not operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manor that creates a danger to another person’s health or property.

Like any other commercial filming, if any City of Austin property is used for UAS filming a permit must be obtained to use the property. This includes filming in parks or any pilot/crew setup on a City of Austin right of way (roadway or sidewalk).

Areas around the City of Austin where UAS flight is restricted:

  • Any flight area with emergency responders at work (i.e. fire hazards, flood & air rescue)
  • Austin-Bergstorm International Airport (ABIA) *
  • Camp Mabry Military Base
  • Circuit of the Americas *
  • Dams & Power Stations (i.e. Mansfield Dam & Tom Miller Dam)
  • Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium **
  • Texas Capital Grounds
  • Texas State Parks (only with permission)

*  There is a No-fly-zone (NFZ) in-place within a five-mile radius of all airports including ABIA.
A temporary flight restriction (TFR) is a regulatory action that briefly restricts aircrafts within a three-mile radius a defined area. A TFR is issued during certain sporting events (like Longhorn games) and presidential visits.

Texas Government Code regarding use of UAS: Texas Government Code, Chapter 423 - Use of Unmanned Aircraft

The FAA requires that UAS owners register their UAS prior to operation. This rule pertains to UAS weighing more than 250 grams and less than 55 pounds. The FAA also asks that UAS activity stay under 400 feet. This is to make sure the UAS don't fly at the same operating altitudes as full sized aircraft.

UAS can be registered at: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/

FAA guides and rules that may be helpful:

For more information on UAS use, please contact: Aviation Administration - Southwest Region

Kelvin L. Solco
Southwest Region Regional Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration

Michael O'Harra
Southwest Region Deputy Regional Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration


Know Before You Fly
An education campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), and the Small UAV Coalition in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of UAS.

CSATF Recommended Guidelines for Safely Working Around UAS
Safety bulletins via the Contract Services Administration Trust Fund, A non-profit organization that administers a variety of programs for the benefit of the motion picture and television industry.