The utilization of drones is increasing significantly, and their accessibility has improved for both commercial and recreational applications, thanks to more affordable options. You must be aware of Colorado drone laws if you want to use a drone for any purpose, including recreation, photography, surveying, or any other.
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Federal Colorado Drone Law
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the body in charge of overseeing all aspects of aviation in the US, including drone use. Depending on the use and size of their drone, the FAA has set forth specific restrictions and standards for users to adhere to.
Recreational Drone Laws in Colorado
In Colorado, as in the rest of the US, recreational drone pilots are not required to have a particular license by the FAA. The FAA does, however, have some requirements:
- Before being flown, drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds but less than 55 pounds need to be registered with the FAA.
- The registration number of drones must be displayed on the exterior of the machine.
- Drones must be flown below Class G airspace ceiling or 400 feet above ground level (AGL), whichever is lower.
- Drones must always be flown in the operator’s or an observer’s visual line of sight (VLOS).
- Without prior permission from the FAA or air traffic control, drones must not be flown over people, moving vehicles, or close to airports.
- Drones must not be flown while intoxicated or high, or in a negligent or reckless manner.
- Drones must not endanger other users of the airspace or interfere with the operations of manned aircraft.
- Any temporary flying restrictions (TFRs) or alerts to airmen (NOTAMs) issued by the FAA for safety or security considerations must be adhered to by drones.
The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST), a free online test that covers fundamental safety and operational information for flying drones, is another need for recreational drone pilots in addition to existing regulations. Any of the websites run by test administrators with FAA approval can be used to take the exam. You will be given a certificate of accomplishment after passing the test, which you must carry with you whenever you operate your drone.
Commercial Drone Laws in Colorado
As a commercial drone pilot, you must abide by the Part 107 Small UAS Rule (Part 107) of the FAA if you want to operate a drone in Colorado for employment or business reasons. Drones that weigh less than 55 pounds may be used commercially under the provisions of Part 107.
You require a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA in order to operate a drone commercially under Part 107. With the help of this certificate, you can fly a drone safely and legally within the framework of the national aviation system.
You must satisfy the following requirements in order to obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate:
- Age of majority is 16 years.
- To properly fly a drone, one must be in good physical and mental health and be able to read, speak, write, and understand English.
- Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test at a testing facility certified by the FAA Pass the two-year recurrent aeronautical knowledge test
- Apply for a certificate from the FAA and obtain one.
The introductory test for aviation knowledge covers subjects including weather, emergency procedures, airspace classification, rules, and more. The test comprises 60 multiple-choice questions, and a 70% score is required to pass. There is a $160 test cost.
Although less in-depth, the recurrent aeronautical knowledge test covers the same material. The test comprises 40 multiple-choice questions, and a 70% score is required to pass. There is a $160 test cost.
You must use the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) on the FAA’s website to request your certificate once you pass the test. You’ll need to register, complete an application, and send in your test results.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will also require you to submit to a security background investigation.
When your application is accepted, you will get an email with a temporary certificate that is good for 120 days. Within six to eight weeks, you will receive your permanent certificate in the mail.
You must abide by the following regulations as a Part 107 remote pilot in addition to some extra regulations:
- Drones cannot be flown more than 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or more than 400 feet above a building.
- The maximum speed for drone flight is limited to 87 knots (100 mph).
- Unless they are directly involved in the activity, behind a covered structure, or within a stopped vehicle, persons cannot be flown over by drones.
- Drones must have anti-collision lighting that is visible for at least three statute miles in order to fly at night.
- Drones cannot be flown outside of the operator’s or an observer’s visual line of sight (BVLOS).
- Unless in a sparsely populated area, drones must never be flown from a moving vehicle or aircraft.
- Manned aircraft always have the right of way over drones.
- Drones cannot drop potentially harmful objects or carry dangerous chemicals.
- Before each flight, drones must be inspected to make sure they are in good working order.
Remote pilots operating drones under Part 107 are also required to maintain records of their operations, including flight logs, maintenance logs, and accident reports. Additionally, they are required to notify the FAA within 10 days of any accidents that cause significant injury, unconsciousness, or $500 or more in property damage.
If you can show that your operation can be carried out safely in a variety of situations, the FAA may waive some of the Part 107 regulations. You can request a waiver, for instance, if you want to fly at night, over people, or outside of your line of sight.
You must submit an online application on the DroneZone website of the FAA in order to request a waiver. You must provide information on your operation’s location, timing, goal, risk-reduction measures, and backup plans. After reviewing your application, the FAA will decide whether to accept it or reject it.
State Drone Laws in Colorado
Colorado drone owners must abide by a number of state drone laws in addition to the federal ones. The Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado Parks and Wildlife are responsible for enforcing these regulations, which were adopted by the Colorado General Assembly.
HB 1070 // 2017
This law mandates that a study be conducted by the Center of Excellence within the Department of Public Safety to determine how to integrate UAS within local and state government functions relating to firefighting, search and rescue, accident reconstruction, crime scene documentation, emergency management, and emergencies involving significant property loss, injury, or death.
In addition, this law introduces a pilot program that enforces the assignment of at least one team of UAS operators to a state region identified as a fire risk. These operators will undergo training on utilizing UAS for the mentioned objectives.
🔰 Michigan Drone Laws ♻️
Colorado State Parks Regulation #100-c.24 // 2018
Under this regulation, drone usage is generally prohibited in Colorado State Parks, except for specific designated areas where it is permitted. Cherry Creek State Park and Chatfield State Park include model airfields that are certified places for drone use2.
Several parks, such as Staunton State Park, have previously granted special usage permissions to drone operators, primarily for business purposes. If you need a special usage permit, get in touch with the park where you want to fly2.
The Part 107 regulations established by the FAA apply to all drone operators within the state of Colorado.
Where to Fly Your Drone in Colorado
As long as you abide by local, state, and federal drone restrictions, there are numerous locations in Colorado where you can fly your drone legally and safely. But some locations are more picturesque and fascinating than others. Here are some of Colorado’s top locations for drone flights:
- Rocky Mountain National Park: One of Colorado’s most recognizable and well-liked tourist sites is Rocky Mountain National Park, and for good reason. Over 415 square miles of craggy mountains, alpine lakes, and verdant meadows make up the park, offering endless options for breathtaking aerial photography. Around the distinctive elements of the park, including Longs Peak, Bear Lake, Trail Ridge Road, and the Continental Divide, you can fly your drone. Additionally, you might be able to see some of the park’s animals, like elk, bighorn sheep, and black bears. The park is open every day of the year, 24 hours a day, however during the winter, some portions could be closed due to snow.
- Garden of the Gods:Another must-see place for drone lovers in Colorado Springs is Garden of the Gods. Beautiful red rock formations can be seen in this public park, which makes for an eye-catching and dramatic backdrop for aerial photography. The unique elements of the park, such as Balanced Rock, Kissing Camels, Cathedral Spires, and Gateway Rock, can be circled by a drone. The park’s hiking paths, rock climbing areas, and horseback riding excursions are all available to visitors. The park is open daily starting from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., however certain portions could be closed for special occasions or bad weather.
- Shoshone National Forest: If you want a more wild and distant experience, the Shoshone National Forest is a great area to fly your drone. You have a large space to fly your drone thanks to the forest, which spans 2.4 million acres of land in northwest Wyoming and southwest Montana. You can fly your drone around the forest’s unique features, such as Yellowstone Lake, Absaroka Range, Wind River Range, and Beartooth Plateau. The location offers breathtaking scenery with a lot of recreational activities, such as camping, fishing, hunting, skiing, and snowmobiling. Although the forest is accessible all year round, snowfall during the winter may cause some places to be blocked.
- Dillon Reservoir: is another location where you can use a drone to observe the water. The reservoir has a surface area of more than 3,000 acres and is situated in Summit County. Mountains and trees surround the reservoir, providing a stunning contrast for taking overhead shots. Around the reservoir’s features, including Frisco Bay Marina, Dillon Marina, Snake River Inlet, and Blue River Inlet, you can fly your drone. You can engage in activities like boating, fishing, kayaking, sailing, and windsurfing at the reservoir. The reservoir is accessible year-round, but before flying, you must register your drone with the Denver Water Authority2.
- Mount Evans:One of the tallest and most difficult mountains to climb in Colorado is Mount Evans. But you can easily fly your drone around it while still taking in the aerial sights. The top provides breathtaking views of the neighboring mountains, valleys, alpine lakes, and glaciers. Around the peak’s features, such as Summit Lake Park and Mount Goliath Natural Area, you can fly your drone
The Future of Drone Regulation and Technology in Colorado
In its approach to drone regulation and development, Colorado has demonstrated that it is a state that values innovation and technology. The state has taken the initiative to foster a business- and user-friendly environment for drones while simultaneously protecting the public’s safety and privacy.
The Colorado UAS Center of Excellence, founded in 2017 by the Department of Public Safety, is one of Colorado’s initiatives to promote drone innovation. Research, testing, training, and education on drone applications for disaster management and public safety are all carried out by the center.
The center also works with other organizations, academic institutions, and business associates to promote drone technology and legislation in Colorado1.
The Colorado Drone Corridor, which was introduced in 2018 by the Colorado Department of Transportation, is another initiative that Colorado has undertaken to promote drone development.
Between Denver and Fort Collins, there is a 90-mile aerial corridor that enables drone pilots to practice and show off their skills in a secure setting. Access to a variety of facilities and resources, including airports, test sites, data centers, and research labs, is also made possible via the corridor2.
The UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), a three-year initiative by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to test and evaluate advanced drone operations like beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), over people, and package delivery, included Colorado as one of the nine states that took part.
Colorado is still working with the FAA and other stakeholders to put the program’s best practices and lessons learned into practice even though it ended in October 20203.
Colorado is home to a number of businesses and organizations working on cutting-edge drone technology solutions for many sectors and industries. For instance:
- Agribotix is a business that offers drone-based agricultural intelligence solutions for monitoring irrigation, estimating yield, and analyzing crop health.
- A firm called Air Methods uses drones and helicopters to provide air medical transport services. The business is focusing on creating a drone ambulance that can transport workers and emergency medical supplies to far-off locations.
- Custom drones and software are produced by Black Swift Technologies for use in environmental and scientific research. The company has participated in initiatives like mapping wildfires, detecting volcanic emissions, and evaluating wildlife habitats.
- A business called Flytedesk offers drone advertising solutions for university campuses. The business targets instructors and students with banners, leaflets, posters, and coupons that are displayed using drones.
Colorado continues to promote and encourage drone innovation and adoption, therefore the state’s future in terms of drone policy and technology appears promising. Colorado is the perfect location for drone enthusiasts and business owners to explore the potential of drone technology because of its diversified landscapes, thriving economy, and forward-thinking culture.
Best Practices and Tips for Flying Your Drone in Colorado
Following are some best practices and advice to assist you fly your drone safely and responsibly now that you are aware of Colorado’s rules and regulations.
- Check the weather before you fly and steer clear of flying in strong winds, rain, snow, fog, or low visibility.
- Check the airspace before you fly, and stay away from places like airports, helipads, military bases, national parks, wildlife refuges, stadiums, schools, prisons, power plants, and other places that are off-limits to aircraft.
- Check for any temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) or notices to airmen (NOTAMs) that may apply to your flight area before you go to the skies. To look for these warnings, utilize programs like AirMap or B4UFLY.
- Make sure your drone is registered with the FAA and clearly labelled with your registration number before you go to the air. Additionally, make sure you have your TRUST certificate or remote pilot certificate, as applicable, with you.
- Make sure your drone is in good operating order before taking to the air. Verify the camera, controller, motors, propellers, and battery level. Fly only after fixing any broken or faulty equipment.
- Find a safe, open space to fly your drone before you take off. Avoid flying too close to structures, wildlife, moving vehicles, or electrical wires. Observe other people’s property rights and privacy. Flying over private property requires permission.
- Keep your drone in your line of sight at all times while you are flying. To observe where your drone is heading, don’t rely on the camera or a monitor. To assist you in maintaining situational awareness and avoiding potential threats, use a spotter or visual observer.
- During your flight, observe the skies’ regulations and give manned aircraft the right-of-way. Land your drone right away and stay out of the airspace if you hear or see an incoming aircraft.
- Be considerate and respectful of other drone users and anyone using the airspace while you are flying. Do not impede their activities or operations. If communication is required, do so; keep disagreements and confrontations to a minimum.
- Land your drone securely and safely after your flight. Battery removal and proper storage are required. Check for damage and wear and tear while cleaning your drone. Keep a log of your flights, including any accidents or problems.
Drone flying in Colorado can be enjoyable and gratifying, but it also has some duties and commitments. In order to utilize drones legally and safely in Colorado, you must abide by all applicable federal and state regulations.
You must register your drone with the FAA and receive a Remote Pilot Certificate if you plan to use it for commercial purposes in order to obtain a drone license in Colorado. If you fly recreationally, you must also pass The Recreational UAS Safety Test.
Additionally, you should be aware of Colorado’s state-specific drone usage regulations, such as the ban on drone use in state parks unless specifically permitted. The rights and privacy of others must also be respected, and flying over someone else’s property without permission must be avoided.
You may have a hassle-free drone experience in Colorado by adhering to these recommendations and advice.
Are drones legal in Colorado?
Yes, drones are legal in Colorado for both recreational and commercial use, subject to FAA regulations and flight controls put in place by local governments.
What are the rules about flying a drone in Colorado?
There are several rules you need to follow when flying a drone in Colorado. Some of the federal drone laws in Colorado that you’ll have to keep in mind include: do not fly higher than 400ft, do not fly in uncontrolled airspace without a permit, always maintain visual line of sight, never interfere with manned aircrafts, do not fly over crowds of people, your drone must be registered with the FAA on the FAADroneZone website, your maximum drone speed must not exceed 100mph.
Is it legal to fly a drone in downtown Denver?
Unfortunately, you can’t fly a drone in most parts of downtown Denver. Drones are not permitted in Denver parks unless there is a designated place for them. The use of drones at events on Denver streets, alleys, and sidewalks requires a Denver Film Permit, and to apply, you must provide proof of an FAA Pilot’s license and Aircraft Registration.
Can I fly drone in City park Denver?
No, you cannot fly a drone in City Park Denver. A regulation from the Denver Department of Parks and Recreation bans flying objects, including drones, from operating in any Denver park facilities.