The FAA has announced that the 2017 Presidential Inauguration Event is classified as a “National Special Security Event,” and has issued a flight advisory. “At the request of the Department of Homeland Security and as part of the airspace security measures for the event, the FAA will be modifying the Washington Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) and Washington Metropolitan Flight Restriction Zone (FRZ) with additional flight restrictions between 0900 Local and 1900 Local on January 20th,” says the advisory. “…The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) classifies the airspace defined in these NOTAMs as ‘National Defense Airspace’…Pilots who do not adhere to the following procedures may be intercepted, detained and interviewed by Law Enforcement/Security Personnel. ”
In essence, the flight advisory prohibits all aircraft other than previously scheduled commercial flights and authorized law enforcement and Department of Defense aircraft from flying within a 30 NM radius of the event. The FAA warns that the advisory may change, so pilots are advised to review the FAA website immediately before flying.
NBC News reports that drones have been specifically targeted for attention by security forces. “Drones are prohibited in the airspace over Washington, D.C.,” Jeh Johnson, secretary of Homeland Security, tells NBC. “This is something we have thought about, we have planned for, and there is technology to deal with it.” However, Johnson said that the specific defensive technology that Homeland Security plans to use is “secret.”
The airspace around the White House is already designated as a “No Drone Zone,”; in January of 2015, security forces detained a man who flew a drone over the fence of the White House lawn. While the incident seemed to be accidental (the operator was using his drone recreationally and lost control) it caused concern for White House security forces, who deemed it a serious breach of the secured perimeter.
Drone operators flying in the region should review the flight advisory and visit the FAA website for further guidance, as the advisory may change.