News

Base policy set for Small Unmanned Aircraft System use

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

As the popularity of commercial, off-the-shelf remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, continue to increase, a policy has been established to ensure the safety and security of resources and personnel on base.

These aircraft, which are designated as small unmanned aircraft systems, or sUAS by the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration, are unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds.

“As we start to see more and more of these types of systems being purchased and flown, we know the potential for airspace incursions, aircraft mishaps and security related incidents also goes up,” said Lt. Col. Ian Dinesen, 55th Security Forces Squadron commander. “Therefore, we wanted to publicize the policy that governs the use of these systems on base.”

The new policy, recently signed by the wing commander, states that all sUAS for hobby or recreational use is prohibited on base. This includes the main base, the Rising View housing areas, Capehart Chapel, the Ehrling Bergquist Clinic and the Base Lake (see attached areas of designation).

“Our priority is the safety and security of the installation,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Brauer, 55th SFS Information Fusion Cell NCO in-charge. “As sUAS become more commonplace, we must increase public outreach to prevent risk from untrained or unaware users who could inadvertently pose a threat to military operations or safety of flight.”

Anyone who wishes to request permission to operate commercial sUAS on Offutt must meet certain requirements.  This includes certifying and registering the sUAS as well as following the federal requirements referenced at the following link: https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/fly_for_work_business.

Finally, sUAS owners should note that Offutt main base is designated as Class C airspace, so an FAA waiver must be approved 90 days prior to sUAS utilization. The form can be found here.

“Flight safety is an ingrained part of the Air Force culture, regardless of the size of the aircraft,” Dinesen said. “Our goal is to ensure everyone understands and abides by this policy.”

If you have further questions or concerns, please call the 55th SFS at (402) 294-6165.