Story by Senior Airman Ryan Lackey
Fairchild Air Force Base has updated its small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), or drone, policy per direction of the U.S. Secretary of Defense and in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration, banning all private use of the devices on base effective immediately.
Privately owned drones were previously permitted and allowed limited use within non-restricted areas of the base with individual permission and under strict-guidelines, however, updates from the SECDEF and the FAA have prompted the complete ban on and around military installations to ensure safety and security regulations are enforced.
“It’s vital to base security and our uninterrupted operations that we maintain a clear airspace around the base,” said Col. Derek Salmi, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. “We don’t wish to impose upon private use of drones, but we insist that no drones be used on the base and that responsible usage within permitted areas per the FAA be followed outside the base. I strongly urge private drone owners to educate themselves on local drone policies and regulations in their area and to use them responsibly.”
Fairchild utilizes various mechanisms to employ should the need arise to subdue an unpermitted drone that trespasses upon base grounds.
“[We have multiple systems] that are designed to quickly incapacitate a flying drone,” said Jacob Gertenbach, 92nd SFS Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructor. “We train select Airmen in the proper and safe use of these devices for the express purpose of subduing a drone should the need arise.”
Unofficial drones discovered within the base perimeter may be subject to seizure by local or base authorities. The policy’s goal is to protect military aircraft and personnel from the additional risks posed by airborne devices on active airfields, as well as reduce the security risks of drone cameras in secure areas.
“The regulation is zero personal drone use within the base perimeter,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jorge Rivera, 92nd Operations Support Squadron Air Traffic Control noncommissioned officer in charge. “Local laws apply off-base and drone users are required to have a Certificate of Operation and be registered with the FAA. We encourage all drone users to contact their local FAA office or check out their policies online before operating a drone anywhere.”
The drone ban policy extends to base residents, dependents and guests of Fairchild AFB personnel.
Specific guidelines on the proper use of drones are listed on the FAA website at https://www.faa.gov/uas.
Please report on-base drone activity to 92nd Security Forces Squadron at 509-247-5555. For any questions, call the 92nd Air Refueling Wing’s Public Affairs office at 509-247-5705.