TX – Texas

Flag courtesy of Wikipedia

Palo Duro Canyon

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Texas government website just for reference.

The TXDOT has a TXDOT UAS Page.

North Texas UAS

Texas Legislature in case more laws were written since this book was published.

Map courtesy of Wikipedia

Google Earth

Last updated on June 18, 2024

Airspace

In addition to checking the FAA UAS Facility Map or B4UFLY or SkyVector or Google Maps one should consider also FAA JO 7400.10F – Special Use Airspace which is an order, published yearly, providing a listing of all regulatory and non-regulatory special use airspace areas, as well as issued but not yet implemented amendments to those areas established by the FAA.

Special Use Airspace consists of airspace of defined dimensions identified by an area on the surface of the earth wherein activities must be confined because of their nature, or wherein limitations are imposed upon aircraft operations that are not a part of those activities, or both. The vertical limits of special use airspace are measured by designated altitude floors and ceilings expressed as flight levels or as feet above MSL. Unless otherwise specified, the word “to” (an altitude or flight level) means “to and including” (that altitude or flight level). The horizontal limits of special use airspace are measured by boundaries described by geographic coordinates or other appropriate references that clearly define their perimeter. The period of time during which a designation of special use airspace is in effect is stated in the designation. All bearings and radials in this part are true from point of origin. Unless otherwise specified, all mileages in this part are stated as statute miles.

Restricted Areas: No person may operate an aircraft within a restricted area between the designated altitudes and during the time of designation, unless they have the advance permission of:

(a) The using agency described in § 73.15; or

(b) The controlling agency described in § 73.17.

These using agencies may be the agency, organization, or military command whose activity within a restricted area necessitated the area being so designated. Upon the request of the FAA, the using agency shall execute a letter establishing procedures for joint use of a restricted area by the using agency and the controlling agency, under which the using agency would notify the controlling agency whenever the controlling agency may grant permission for transit through the restricted area in accordance with the terms of the letter. The using agency shall:

(1) Schedule activities within the restricted area;

(2) Authorize transit through, or flight within, the restricted area as feasible; and

(3) Contain within the restricted area all activities conducted therein in accordance with the purpose for which it was designated.

For the purposes of this part, the controlling agency is the FAA facility that may authorize transit through or flight within a restricted area in accordance with a joint-use letter issued under § 73.15.

Prohibited Areas: No person may operate an aircraft within a prohibited area unless authorization has been granted by the using agency. For the purpose of this subpart, the using agency is the agency, organization or military command that established the requirements for the prohibited area.

Military Operations Areas: A Military Operations Area (MOA) is airspace established outside of Class A airspace to separate/segregate certain nonhazardous military activities from IFR traffic and to identify for VFR traffic where these activities are conducted. Activities. MOA’s are established to contain certain military activities such as air combat maneuvers, air intercepts, acrobatics, etc.

Alert Areas:  Airspace which may contain a high volume of pilot training activities or an unusual type of aerial activity, neither of which is hazardous to aircraft.

Warning Areas: A non regulatory warning area is airspace of defined dimensions designated over international waters that contains activity which may be hazardous to nonparticipating aircraft. The purpose of such warning areas is to warn nonparticipating pilots of the potential danger. Activities may be hazardous.

National Security Areas: A national security area (NSA) consists of airspace of defined vertical and lateral dimensions established at locations where there is a requirement for increased security of ground facilities. The purpose of such national security areas is to request pilot cooperation by voluntarily avoiding flight through the NSA. When circumstances dictate a need for a greater level of security, flight in an NSA may be temporarily prohibited by regulation under the provisions of 14 CFR Section 99.7, Special Security Instructions. Such prohibitions will be issued by FAA Headquarters and disseminated via the US NOTAM System.

 

 

 

Crewed Aircraft in your Airspace

CREWED AIRCRAFT

Lastly, if you want to be informed about crewed aircraft flying in the vicinity of your drone operation, you can always check with apps like FlightAware or ADS-B Exchange

 

 

Texas Revised Statute 423.001

RS 423.001

Chapter 423 – Use of UA

DEFINITION. In this chapter, “image” means any capturing of sound waves, thermal, infrared, ultraviolet, visible light, or other electromagnetic waves, odor, or other conditions existing on or about real property in this state or an individual located on that property.

Texas Revised Statute 423.002

RS 423.002.

Oct 23, 2023 – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court’s 2022 ruling on the constitutionality of Texas Chapter 423 law (i.e., the drone law) which restricts the actions of drones. Nat’l Press Photographers Ass’n v. McCraw, No. 22-50337 (Oct. 23, 2023)

 The law reads:

A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.

The ruling concluded that the law is not unconstitutional on its face, and that this decision “does not foreclose all First Amendment and due process challenges” and that a future challenge “may persuasively show that a particular enforcement of Chapter 423 runs afoul of free speech or fairness principles.”

The lawsuit was a pre-enforcement challenge to this Texas state law by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). While specific exemptions for certain government operations (e.g., land surveying, criminal investigations, educational research) were made, the law did not clarify or address whether the press could use drones. In its argument, the NPPA provided examples of drone use by the media: the capturing of aerial footage of a fatal fire or using a drone to track the construction of a publicly funded project. These examples, argued the NPPA, are not invasions of privacy, yet these actions would fall under the statute without a specific exemption for the media. Since the decision did not clarify whether the prohibition applies to media, this likely means that the statute could face further challenge if criminal penalties are sought against a reporter in the future. For now, journalists in Texas may need to weigh the risks related to the use of drones for reporting purposes, since the law imposes a criminal misdemeanor infraction on violators.

 

This statute stricken by Judge in THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS AUSTIN DIVISION

NATIONAL PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION, TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION, and JOSEPH PAPPALARDO, Plaintiffs,

v.

STEVEN MCCRAW, in his official capacity as Director of Texas Department of Public Safety; DWIGHT MATHIS, in his official capacity as Chief of the Texas Highway Patrol; and WES MAU, in his official capacity as District Attorney of Hays County, Texas, Defendants.

1:19-CV-946-RP

NONAPPLICABILITY.

(a)  It is lawful to capture an image using an UA in this state:

(1) for the purpose of professional or scholarly research and development or for another academic purpose by a person acting on behalf of an institution of higher education or a private or independent institution of higher education, as those terms are defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, including a person who:

(A) is a professor, employee, or student of the institution; or

(B) is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of the institution;

(2) in airspace designated as a test site or range authorized by the FAA for the purpose of integrating UAS into the NAS;

(3) as part of an operation, exercise, or mission of any branch of the US military;

(4) if the image is captured by a satellite for the purposes of mapping;

(5) if the image is captured by or for an electric or natural gas utility or a telecommunications provider:

(A) for operations and maintenance of utility or telecommunications facilities for the purpose of maintaining utility or telecommunications system reliability and integrity;

(B) for inspecting utility or telecommunications facilities to determine repair, maintenance, or replacement needs during and after construction of such facilities;

(C) for assessing vegetation growth for the purpose of maintaining clearances on utility or telecommunications easements; and

(D) for utility or telecommunications facility routing and siting for the purpose of providing utility or telecommunications service;

(6) with the consent of the individual who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image;

(7) pursuant to a valid search or arrest warrant;

(8) if the image is captured by a law enforcement authority or a person who is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of a law enforcement authority:

(A) in immediate pursuit of a person law enforcement officers have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to suspect has committed an offense, not including misdemeanors or offenses punishable by a fine only;

(B) for the purpose of documenting a crime scene where an offense, not including misdemeanors or offenses punishable by a fine only, has been committed;

(C) for the purpose of investigating the scene of:

(i) a human fatality;

(ii) a motor vehicle accident causing death or serious bodily injury to a person; or

(iii) any motor vehicle accident on a state highway or federal interstate or highway;

(D) in connection with the search for a missing person;

(E) for the purpose of conducting a high-risk tactical operation that poses a threat to human life;

(F) of private property that is generally open to the public where the property owner consents to law enforcement public safety responsibilities; or

(G) of real property or a person on real property that is within 25 miles of the US border for the sole purpose of ensuring border security;

(9) if the image is captured by state or local law enforcement authorities, or a person who is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of state authorities, for the purpose of:

(A) surveying the scene of a catastrophe or other damage to determine whether a state of emergency should be declared;

(B) preserving public safety, protecting property, or surveying damage or contamination during a lawfully declared state of emergency; or

(C) conducting routine air quality sampling and monitoring, as provided by state or local law;

(10) at the scene of a spill, or a suspected spill, of hazardous materials;

(11) for the purpose of fire suppression;

(12) for the purpose of rescuing a person whose life or well-being is in imminent danger;

(13) if the image is captured by a Texas licensed real estate broker in connection with the marketing, sale, or financing of real property, provided that no individual is identifiable in the image;

(14) from a height no more than eight feet above ground level in a public place, if the image was captured without using any electronic, mechanical, or other means to amplify the image beyond normal human perception;

(15) of public real property or a person on that property;

(16) if the image is captured by the owner or operator of an oil, gas, water, or other pipeline for the purpose of inspecting, maintaining, or repairing pipelines or other related facilities, and is captured without the intent to conduct surveillance on an individual or real property located in this state;

(17) in connection with oil pipeline safety and rig protection;

(18) in connection with port authority surveillance and security;

(19) if the image is captured by a registered professional land surveyor in connection with the practice of professional surveying, as those terms are defined by Section 1071.002, Occupations Code, provided that no individual is identifiable in the image;

(20)  if the image is captured by a professional engineer licensed under Subchapter G, Chapter 1001, Occupations Code, in connection with the practice of engineering, as defined by Section 1001.003, Occupations Code, provided that no individual is identifiable in the image; or

(21) if:

(A) the image is captured by an employee of an insurance company or of an affiliate of the company in connection with the underwriting of an insurance policy, or the rating or adjusting of an insurance claim, regarding real property or a structure on real property; and

(B) the operator of the UA is authorized by the FAA to conduct operations within the airspace from which the image is captured.

(b) This chapter does not apply to the manufacture, assembly, distribution, or sale of an UA.

Texas Revised Statute 423.003

RS 423.003.

Oct 23, 2023 – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court’s 2022 ruling on the constitutionality of Texas Chapter 423 law (i.e., the drone law) which restricts the actions of drones. Nat’l Press Photographers Ass’n v. McCraw, No. 22-50337 (Oct. 23, 2023)

 The law reads:

A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.

The ruling concluded that the law is not unconstitutional on its face, and that this decision “does not foreclose all First Amendment and due process challenges” and that a future challenge “may persuasively show that a particular enforcement of Chapter 423 runs afoul of free speech or fairness principles.”

The lawsuit was a pre-enforcement challenge to this Texas state law by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). While specific exemptions for certain government operations (e.g., land surveying, criminal investigations, educational research) were made, the law did not clarify or address whether the press could use drones. In its argument, the NPPA provided examples of drone use by the media: the capturing of aerial footage of a fatal fire or using a drone to track the construction of a publicly funded project. These examples, argued the NPPA, are not invasions of privacy, yet these actions would fall under the statute without a specific exemption for the media. Since the decision did not clarify whether the prohibition applies to media, this likely means that the statute could face further challenge if criminal penalties are sought against a reporter in the future. For now, journalists in Texas may need to weigh the risks related to the use of drones for reporting purposes, since the law imposes a criminal misdemeanor infraction on violators.

This statute stricken by Judge in THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS AUSTIN DIVISION

NATIONAL PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION, TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION, and JOSEPH PAPPALARDO, Plaintiffs,

v.

STEVEN MCCRAW, in his official capacity as Director of Texas Department of Public Safety; DWIGHT MATHIS, in his official capacity as Chief of the Texas Highway Patrol; and WES MAU, in his official capacity as District Attorney of Hays County, Texas, Defendants.

1:19-CV-946-RP

OFFENSE: ILLEGAL USE OF UA TO CAPTURE IMAGE.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person uses an UA to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.

(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

(c) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that the person destroyed the image:

(1) as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of this section; and

(2) without disclosing, displaying, or distributing the image to a third party.

(d) In this section, “intent” has the meaning assigned by Section 6.03, Penal Code.

 

Texas Revised Statute 423.004

RS 423.004.

Oct 23, 2023 – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court’s 2022 ruling on the constitutionality of Texas Chapter 423 law (i.e., the drone law) which restricts the actions of drones. Nat’l Press Photographers Ass’n v. McCraw, No. 22-50337 (Oct. 23, 2023)

 The law reads:

A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.

The ruling concluded that the law is not unconstitutional on its face, and that this decision “does not foreclose all First Amendment and due process challenges” and that a future challenge “may persuasively show that a particular enforcement of Chapter 423 runs afoul of free speech or fairness principles.”

The lawsuit was a pre-enforcement challenge to this Texas state law by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). While specific exemptions for certain government operations (e.g., land surveying, criminal investigations, educational research) were made, the law did not clarify or address whether the press could use drones. In its argument, the NPPA provided examples of drone use by the media: the capturing of aerial footage of a fatal fire or using a drone to track the construction of a publicly funded project. These examples, argued the NPPA, are not invasions of privacy, yet these actions would fall under the statute without a specific exemption for the media. Since the decision did not clarify whether the prohibition applies to media, this likely means that the statute could face further challenge if criminal penalties are sought against a reporter in the future. For now, journalists in Texas may need to weigh the risks related to the use of drones for reporting purposes, since the law imposes a criminal misdemeanor infraction on violators.

This statute stricken by Judge in THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS AUSTIN DIVISION

NATIONAL PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION, TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION, and JOSEPH PAPPALARDO, Plaintiffs,

v.

STEVEN MCCRAW, in his official capacity as Director of Texas Department of Public Safety; DWIGHT MATHIS, in his official capacity as Chief of the Texas Highway Patrol; and WES MAU, in his official capacity as District Attorney of Hays County, Texas, Defendants.

1:19-CV-946-RP

OFFENSE: POSSESSION, DISCLOSURE, DISPLAY, DISTRIBUTION, OR USE OF IMAGE.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person:

(1) captures an image in violation of Section 423.003; and

(2) possesses, discloses, displays, distributes, or otherwise uses that image.

(b) An offense under this section for the possession of an image is a Class C misdemeanor. An offense under this section for the disclosure, display, distribution, or other use of an image is a Class B misdemeanor.

(c) Each image a person possesses, discloses, displays, distributes, or otherwise uses in violation of this section is a separate offense.

(d) It is a defense to prosecution under this section for the possession of an image that the person destroyed the image as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of Section 423.003.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section for the disclosure, display, distribution, or other use of an image that the person stopped disclosing, displaying, distributing, or otherwise using the image as soon as the person had knowledge that the image was captured in violation of Section 423.003.

 

Texas Revised Statute 423.0045

RS 423.0045.

Oct 23, 2023 – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court’s 2022 ruling on the constitutionality of Texas Chapter 423 law (i.e., the drone law) which restricts the actions of drones. Nat’l Press Photographers Ass’n v. McCraw, No. 22-50337 (Oct. 23, 2023)

 The law reads:

A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.

The ruling concluded that the law is not unconstitutional on its face, and that this decision “does not foreclose all First Amendment and due process challenges” and that a future challenge “may persuasively show that a particular enforcement of Chapter 423 runs afoul of free speech or fairness principles.”

The lawsuit was a pre-enforcement challenge to this Texas state law by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). While specific exemptions for certain government operations (e.g., land surveying, criminal investigations, educational research) were made, the law did not clarify or address whether the press could use drones. In its argument, the NPPA provided examples of drone use by the media: the capturing of aerial footage of a fatal fire or using a drone to track the construction of a publicly funded project. These examples, argued the NPPA, are not invasions of privacy, yet these actions would fall under the statute without a specific exemption for the media. Since the decision did not clarify whether the prohibition applies to media, this likely means that the statute could face further challenge if criminal penalties are sought against a reporter in the future. For now, journalists in Texas may need to weigh the risks related to the use of drones for reporting purposes, since the law imposes a criminal misdemeanor infraction on violators.

This statute stricken by Judge in THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS AUSTIN DIVISION

NATIONAL PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION, TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION, and JOSEPH PAPPALARDO, Plaintiffs,

v.

STEVEN MCCRAW, in his official capacity as Director of Texas Department of Public Safety; DWIGHT MATHIS, in his official capacity as Chief of the Texas Highway Patrol; and WES MAU, in his official capacity as District Attorney of Hays County, Texas, Defendants.

1:19-CV-946-RP

OFFENSE: OPERATION OF UA OVER CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, DETENTION FACILITY, OR CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE FACILITY.

(a) In this section:

(1) “Correctional facility” means:

(A) a confinement facility operated by or under contract with any division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice;

(B) a municipal or county jail;

(C) a confinement facility operated by or under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons; or

(D) a secure correctional facility or secure detention facility, as defined by Section 51.02, Family Code.

(1-a) “Critical infrastructure facility” means:

(A) one of the following, if completely enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier that is obviously designed to exclude intruders, or if clearly marked with a sign or signs that are posted on the property, are reasonably likely to come to the attention of intruders, and indicate that entry is forbidden:

(i) a petroleum or alumina refinery;

(ii) an electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station, or electrical control center;

(iii) a chemical, polymer, or rubber manufacturing facility;

(iv) a water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant, or pump station;

(v) a natural gas compressor station;

(vi) a liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility;

(vii) a telecommunications central switching office or any structure used as part of a system to provide wired or wireless telecommunications services;

(viii) a port, a public or private airport depicted in any current aeronautical chart published by the FAA, a railroad switching yard, a trucking terminal, or any other freight transportation facility;

(ix) a gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment, or fractionation of natural gas;

(x) a transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station;

(xi) a steelmaking facility that uses an electric arc furnace to make steel;

(xii) a dam that is classified as a high hazard by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality;

(xiii) a concentrated animal feeding operation, as defined by Section 26.048, Water Code; or

(xiv) a military installation owned or operated by or for the federal government, the state, or another governmental entity; or

(B) if enclosed by a fence or other physical barrier obviously designed to exclude intruders:

(i) any portion of an aboveground oil, gas, or chemical pipeline;

(ii) an oil or gas drilling site;

(iii) a group of tanks used to store crude oil, such as a tank battery;

(iv) an oil, gas, or chemical production facility;

(v) an oil or gas wellhead; or

(vi) any oil and gas facility that has an active flare.

(2) “Dam” means any barrier, including any appurtenant structures, that is constructed for the purpose of permanently or temporarily impounding water.

(3) “Detention facility” means a facility operated by or under contract with United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the purpose of detaining aliens and placing them in removal proceedings.

(b) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly:

(1) operates an UA over a correctional facility, detention facility, or critical infrastructure facility and the UA is not higher than 400 feet above ground level;

(2) allows an UA to make contact with a correctional facility, detention facility, or critical infrastructure facility, including any person or object on the premises of or within the facility; or

(3) allows an UA to come within a distance of a correctional facility, detention facility, or critical infrastructure facility that is close enough to interfere with the operations of or cause a disturbance to the facility.

(c) This section does not apply to:

(1) conduct described by Subsection (b) that involves a correctional facility, detention facility, or critical infrastructure facility and is committed by:

(A) the federal government, the state, or a governmental entity;

(B) a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of the federal government, the state, or a governmental entity;

(C) a law enforcement agency;

(D) a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of a law enforcement agency; or

(E) an operator of an UA that is being used for a commercial purpose, if the operation is conducted in compliance with:

(i) each applicable FAA rule, restriction, or exemption; and

(ii) all required FAA authorizations; or

(2) conduct described by Subsection (b) that involves a critical infrastructure facility and is committed by:

(A) an owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility;

(B) a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of an owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility;

(C) a person who has the prior written consent of the owner or operator of the critical infrastructure facility; or

(D) the owner or occupant of the property on which the critical infrastructure facility is located or a person who has the prior written consent of the owner or occupant of that property.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the actor has previously been convicted under this section or Section 423.0046.

 

Texas Revised Statute 423.0046

RS 423.0046.

Oct 23, 2023 – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court’s 2022 ruling on the constitutionality of Texas Chapter 423 law (i.e., the drone law) which restricts the actions of drones. Nat’l Press Photographers Ass’n v. McCraw, No. 22-50337 (Oct. 23, 2023)

 The law reads:

A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.

The ruling concluded that the law is not unconstitutional on its face, and that this decision “does not foreclose all First Amendment and due process challenges” and that a future challenge “may persuasively show that a particular enforcement of Chapter 423 runs afoul of free speech or fairness principles.”

The lawsuit was a pre-enforcement challenge to this Texas state law by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). While specific exemptions for certain government operations (e.g., land surveying, criminal investigations, educational research) were made, the law did not clarify or address whether the press could use drones. In its argument, the NPPA provided examples of drone use by the media: the capturing of aerial footage of a fatal fire or using a drone to track the construction of a publicly funded project. These examples, argued the NPPA, are not invasions of privacy, yet these actions would fall under the statute without a specific exemption for the media. Since the decision did not clarify whether the prohibition applies to media, this likely means that the statute could face further challenge if criminal penalties are sought against a reporter in the future. For now, journalists in Texas may need to weigh the risks related to the use of drones for reporting purposes, since the law imposes a criminal misdemeanor infraction on violators.

This statute stricken by Judge in THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS AUSTIN DIVISION

NATIONAL PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION, TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION, and JOSEPH PAPPALARDO, Plaintiffs,

v.

STEVEN MCCRAW, in his official capacity as Director of Texas Department of Public Safety; DWIGHT MATHIS, in his official capacity as Chief of the Texas Highway Patrol; and WES MAU, in his official capacity as District Attorney of Hays County, Texas, Defendants.

1:19-CV-946-RP

OFFENSE: OPERATION OF UA OVER SPORTS VENUE.

(a) In this section, “sports venue” means an arena, automobile racetrack, coliseum, stadium, or other type of area or facility that:

(1) has a seating capacity of 30,000 or more people; and

(2) is primarily used for one or more professional or amateur sports or athletics events.

(b) A person commits an offense if the person intentionally or knowingly operates an UA over a sports venue and the UA is not higher than 400 feet above ground level.

(c) This section does not apply to conduct described by Subsection (b) that is committed by:

(1) the federal government, the state, or a governmental entity;

(2) a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of the federal government, the state, or a governmental entity;

(3) a law enforcement agency;

(4) a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of a law enforcement agency;

(5) an operator of an UA that is being used for a commercial purpose, if the operation is conducted in compliance with:

(A) each applicable FAA rule, restriction, or exemption; and

(B) all required FAA authorizations;

(6) an owner or operator of the sports venue;

(7) a person under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of an owner or operator of the sports venue; or

(8) a person who has the prior written consent of the owner or operator of the sports venue.

(d) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor, except that the offense is a Class A misdemeanor if the actor has previously been convicted under this section or Section 423.0045.

 

Texas Revised Statute 423.005

RS 423.005

ILLEGALLY OR INCIDENTALLY CAPTURED IMAGES NOT SUBJECT TO DISCLOSURE.

(a) Except as otherwise provided by Subsection (b), an image captured in violation of Section 423.003, or an image captured by an UA that was incidental to the lawful capturing of an image:

(1) may not be used as evidence in any criminal or juvenile proceeding, civil action, or administrative proceeding;

(2) is not subject to disclosure, inspection, or copying under Chapter 552; and

(3) is not subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for its release.

(b) An image described by Subsection (a) may be disclosed and used as evidence to prove a violation of this chapter and is subject to discovery, subpoena, or other means of legal compulsion for that purpose.

Texas Revised Statute 423.006

RS 423.006.

Oct 23, 2023 – U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed a district court’s 2022 ruling on the constitutionality of Texas Chapter 423 law (i.e., the drone law) which restricts the actions of drones. Nat’l Press Photographers Ass’n v. McCraw, No. 22-50337 (Oct. 23, 2023)

 The law reads:

A person commits an offense if the person uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in this state with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.

The ruling concluded that the law is not unconstitutional on its face, and that this decision “does not foreclose all First Amendment and due process challenges” and that a future challenge “may persuasively show that a particular enforcement of Chapter 423 runs afoul of free speech or fairness principles.”

The lawsuit was a pre-enforcement challenge to this Texas state law by the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA). While specific exemptions for certain government operations (e.g., land surveying, criminal investigations, educational research) were made, the law did not clarify or address whether the press could use drones. In its argument, the NPPA provided examples of drone use by the media: the capturing of aerial footage of a fatal fire or using a drone to track the construction of a publicly funded project. These examples, argued the NPPA, are not invasions of privacy, yet these actions would fall under the statute without a specific exemption for the media. Since the decision did not clarify whether the prohibition applies to media, this likely means that the statute could face further challenge if criminal penalties are sought against a reporter in the future. For now, journalists in Texas may need to weigh the risks related to the use of drones for reporting purposes, since the law imposes a criminal misdemeanor infraction on violators.

This statute stricken by Judge in THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS AUSTIN DIVISION

NATIONAL PRESS PHOTOGRAPHERS ASSOCIATION, TEXAS PRESS ASSOCIATION, and JOSEPH PAPPALARDO, Plaintiffs,

v.

STEVEN MCCRAW, in his official capacity as Director of Texas Department of Public Safety; DWIGHT MATHIS, in his official capacity as Chief of the Texas Highway Patrol; and WES MAU, in his official capacity as District Attorney of Hays County, Texas, Defendants.

1:19-CV-946-RP

CIVIL ACTION.

(a) An owner or tenant of privately owned real property located in this state may bring against a person who, in violation of Section 423.003, captured an image of the property or the owner or tenant while on the property an action to:

(1) enjoin a violation or imminent violation of Section 423.003 or 423.004;

(2) recover a civil penalty of:

(A) $5,000 for all images captured in a single episode in violation of Section 423.003; or

(B) $10,000 for disclosure, display, distribution, or other use of any images captured in a single episode in violation of Section 423.004; or

(3) recover actual damages if the person who captured the image in violation of Section 423.003 discloses, displays, or distributes the image with malice.

(b) For purposes of recovering the civil penalty or actual damages under Subsection (a), all owners of a parcel of real property are considered to be a single owner and all tenants of a parcel of real property are considered to be a single tenant.

(c) In this section, “malice” has the meaning assigned by Section 41.001, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

(d) In addition to any civil penalties authorized under this section, the court shall award court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party.

(e) Venue for an action under this section is governed by Chapter 15, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.

(f) An action brought under this section must be commenced within two years from the date the image was:

(1) captured in violation of Section 423.003; or

(2) initially disclosed, displayed, distributed, or otherwise used in violation of Section 423.004.

 

Texas Revised Statute 423.007

RS 423.007

RULES FOR USE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT.

The Department of Public Safety shall adopt rules and guidelines for use of an UA by a law enforcement authority in this state.

Texas Revised Statute 423.008

RS 423.008

REPORTING BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY.

(a) Not earlier than January 1 and not later than January 15 of each odd-numbered year, each state law enforcement agency and each county or municipal law enforcement agency located in a county or municipality, as applicable, with a population greater than 150,000, that used or operated an UA during the preceding 24 months shall issue a written report to the governor, the lieutenant governor, and each member of the legislature and shall:

(1) retain the report for public viewing; and

(2) post the report on the law enforcement agency’s publicly accessible website, if one exists.

(b) The report must include:

(1) the number of times an UA was used, organized by date, time, location, and the types of incidents and types of justification for the use;

(2) the number of criminal investigations aided by the use of an UA and a description of how the UA aided each investigation;

(3) the number of times an UA was used for a law enforcement operation other than a criminal investigation, the dates and locations of those operations, and a description of how the UA aided each operation;

(4) the type of information collected on an individual, residence, property, or area that was not the subject of a law enforcement operation and the frequency of the collection of this information; and

(5) the total cost of acquiring, maintaining, repairing, and operating or otherwise using each UA for the preceding 24 months.

Texas Revised Statute 423.009

RS 423.009

State Preemption

REGULATION OF UA BY POLITICAL SUBDIVISION.

(a) In this section:

(1) “Political subdivision” includes a county, a joint board created under Section 22.074, Transportation Code, and a municipality.

(2) “Special event” means a festival, celebration, or other gathering that:

(A) involves:

(i) the reservation and temporary use of all or a portion of a public park, road, or other property of a political subdivision; and

(ii) entertainment, the sale of merchandise, food, or beverages, or mass participation in a sports event; and

(B) requires a significant use or coordination of a political subdivision’s services.

(b) Except as provided by Subsection (c), a political subdivision may not adopt or enforce any ordinance, order, or other similar measure regarding the operation of an UA.

(c) A political subdivision may adopt and enforce an ordinance, order, or other similar measure regarding:

(1) the use of an UA during a special event;

(2) the political subdivision’s use of an UA; or

(3) the use of an UA near a facility or infrastructure owned by the political subdivision, if the political subdivision:

(A) applies for and receives authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration to adopt the regulation; and

(B) after providing reasonable notice, holds a public hearing on the political subdivision’s intent to apply for the authorization.

(d) An ordinance, order, or other similar measure that violates Subsection (b) is void and unenforceable.

 

Texas Revised Statute 411.062

RS 411.062

LAW ENFORCEMENT AND SECURITY AUTHORITY.

(a) The department has primary responsibility for law enforcement and security services on the Capitol Complex.

(b) Subsection (a) does not prohibit the department from requesting or receiving assistance from another law enforcement agency.

(c) This section does not prohibit a peace officer who is not a member of the department from exercising the officer’s authority on the Capitol Complex in an emergency or in a situation where the officer reasonably believes that immediate action is necessary.

(d) The department shall adopt rules relating to security of persons and access to and protection of the grounds, public buildings, and property of the state within the Capitol Complex, except that public use of the capitol, the capitol extension, the capitol grounds, and the General Land Office building shall be governed by the State Preservation Board.

(d-1) The director shall adopt rules governing the use of UA in the Capitol Complex. The rules adopted under this subsection may:

(1) prohibit the use of UA in the Capitol Complex; or

(2) authorize limited use of UA in the Capitol Complex.

(e) The department may enforce the rules of the State Preservation Board, adopted under Section 443.018.

(f) The department and the City of Austin shall execute an interlocal cooperation agreement that defines the respective responsibilities of the department and the city for traffic and parking enforcement and general security in the Capitol Complex, including private property within the boundaries of the complex.

(g) The commission may authorize the director to impose within the Capitol Complex measures the director determines to be necessary to protect the safety and security of persons and property within the complex.

Texas Revised Statute 2.33

RS 2.33

LAW ENFORCEMENT POLICY ON USE OF FORCE BY DRONE.

(a) In this article:

(1) “Drone” means an UA, watercraft, or ground vehicle or a robotic device that:

(A) is controlled remotely by a human operator; or

(B) operates autonomously through computer software or other programming.

(2) “Law enforcement agency” means an agency of the state or an agency of a political subdivision of the state authorized by law to employ peace officers.

(b) Each law enforcement agency that uses or intends to use a drone for law enforcement purposes shall:

(1) adopt a written policy regarding the agency’s use of force by means of a drone, before the agency first uses a drone, and update the policy as necessary; and

(2) not later than January 1 of each even-numbered year, submit the policy to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement in the manner prescribed by the commission.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Regulations

Texas Parks and Wildlife

Can you fly a drone or other remote control aircraft in a state park?

Two parks offer zones for flying remote controlled aircraft (including drones): San Angelo and Martin Dies, Jr. You can request a filming permit for your craft at any park by contacting that park. Allow several weeks for them to review your request.

Texas Rule §65.152

RULE §65.152

(a) A person who holds an AMP is authorized to engage in the management of wildlife and exotic animals by the use of aircraft only on the tract(s) of land specified in the LOA. The AMP must be carried in an aircraft when the aircraft is engaged in activities authorized by the AMP.

(b) A pilot of an aircraft used for the management of wildlife or exotic animals must maintain, on a daily basis, a flight log and report. The daily flight log must be current and available for inspection by game wardens at reasonable times. Each AMP holder and pilot shall comply with all FAA regulations for the specific type of aircraft listed on their AMP.

(c) It is lawful for a person who holds an AMP to contract with a qualified Landowner, Agent, or Subagent to act as a gunner the taking of depredating feral hogs or coyotes from a helicopter, provided:

(1) the contract is in writing and signed by the Landowner or Agent;

(2) a department-approved Subagent authorization form has been properly executed and is in the physical possession of the Subagent during all AMP activities in which the Subagent participates; and

(3) the AMP holder possesses a valid, properly executed LOA.

(d) A person (which includes a pilot, applicant, gunner, observer, or Subagent) commits an offense if:

(1) the person counts, photographs, relocates, captures, hunts, or takes or attempts to count, photograph, relocate, capture, hunt, or take from an aircraft any wildlife or exotic animals other than wildlife or exotic animals authorized by the AMP and LOA;

(2) the person intentionally harasses any wildlife or exotic animals by the use of an aircraft other than wildlife or exotic animals authorized in an AMP and LOA;

(3) the person participates in the take or attempted take of any wildlife or exotic animal other than depredating feral hogs or coyotes without having on his or her person a valid hunting license issued by the department;

(4) the person pilots an aircraft to manage wildlife or exotic animals without a valid pilot’s license as required by the FAA;

(5) the person pays, barters, or exchanges anything of value to participate as a gunner, observer, or Subagent except as may be otherwise provided in this subchapter;

(6) the person acting as a gunner or pilot under an AMP takes or attempts to take any wildlife or exotic animals for any purpose other than is necessary to protect or to aid in the administration of lands, water, wildlife, livestock, domesticated animals, human life, or crops, except that any wildlife or exotic animals, once lawfully taken pursuant to this subchapter may be sold if their sale is not otherwise prohibited;

(7) the person acting as a gunner or pilot takes or attempts to take wildlife or exotic animals during the hours between 1/2-hour after sunset and 1/2-hour before sunrise;

(8) the person operates an aircraft for the management of wildlife or exotic animals and is not named as an authorized pilot by an AMP;

(9) the person takes, kills, captures, or attempts to take, kill, or capture more wildlife or exotic animals on properties than are specified in the LOA;

(10) the person uses an AMP for the purpose of sport hunting;

(11) the person is engaging in AMP activities and pilots an aircraft over land for which the person has not received written permission to overfly, except as is necessary to gain initial access to the land described in the LOA prior to commencing AMP activities and to leave following the conclusion of AMP activities; or

(12) the person otherwise violates a provision of this subchapter.

(e) These rules do not exempt any person from the requirement for other licenses or permits required by statute or rule of the commission.

(f) The department may waive the fee requirements of this subchapter for an employee of a governmental entity acting in the scope and course of official duties.

(g) The department will not approve an LOA for the take of feral hogs on a tract of land where feral hogs have been released or liberated by or with the approval of the Landowner or Agent for the purpose of being hunted.

 

City of Temple Parks Rules

City of Temple Parks

Park UAS Rules

12. Drones/Remote Controlled Airplanes

1) A person must follow all applicable laws while using a drone/airplane.

2) No one may use a drone/airplane during a PARD event without the Director’s approval.

3) A person operating a drone or remote controlled airplane is responsible for any bodily injury or property damage caused by that activity.

4) The only allowed place for flying remote controlled airplanes is at the designated area in West Temple Park, unless otherwise approved by the Director.

Harker Heights Ordinances

Harker Heights Ordinances

105.02 DEFINITIONS.

For the purpose of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply unless the context clearly indicates or requires a different meaning.

DRONE. An unmanned aircraft system (UAS) or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can fly under the control of a remote pilot or via global positioning system (GPS) guided autopilot mechanism.

Harris County Rules

Harris County

Drone usage at Harris County Precinct 2 Parks

Harris County Park Rules Section 24 states that both model aircraft and drones are permitted only in specifically designated areas. This policy is for the safety of the visitors to the park.

Harris County offers the following designated parks that allow model R/C and drones:

  • George Bush Park – Precinct 3 – Houston, TX  – 16756 Westheimer Parkway, 77082 – Note: Open to all drone operators. Must maintain line of sight with drone at all times.
  • Dyess Park – Precinct 4 – Cypress, TX – 16822 Kitzman Road, 77429 – Note: Drone operators must be a member of the SPARKS RC club.
  • Schiveley R/C Flying FIeld – Houston, TX – 13939 Kuykendahl Road, 77090 – Note: Drone operators must be a member of the Houston Sports Flyers club.

Longview Rules

Longview Code 81-65

Sec. 81-14. Recreational activities.

No person in a public recreational facility shall:

(f)   ascend, descend, operate, or launch any aircraft, including but not limited to airplanes, unmanned aircraft system (drone), paraplanes, ultralights, helicopters, and gliders.

Parker Rules

Parker Code 97.11

§ 97.11  UNLAWFUL ACTS.
   (A)   Within the limits of any city park, or designated city open space, it shall be unlawful for any person to do any of the acts hereinafter specified, except as may be otherwise provided:
(23)   To use or operate any gas operated remote controlled airplanes; boat, car, drone or other motorized, model device, including radio-controlled devices such as helicopters; parasail, hang glider or hot air balloons, in any manner that either creates a disturbance to other park guests, or displaces other park guests in the park.

 

Texas City Code

Texas City Code 97.03

§ 97.03 APPLICATION PROCEDURE.
   (A)   At least 60 days before the date on which a mass gathering will be held, the promoter shall file a permit application with the city. Applications submitted less than 60 days prior to the event may still be considered; however, the applicant acknowledges that the required inspections and review process may not be completed in time to allow for authorization and permitting.
   (B)   The application must include all applicable items listed below:
(13)   Whether drone(s) will be used or allowed and a description of the preparations for their use;
§ 97.05 DECISION BY THE MAYOR.
   (A)   After a review of the reports or any other investigations by the Special Events Committee, the Mayor shall either grant or deny the permit. The decision by the Mayor shall be made within ten days after receipt of the determination of the Special Events Committee.
   (B)   In the decision to grant the permit, the Mayor shall determine the specific dates and times for which the permit is granted, whether there will be road closures, whether there will be no parking zones for specific locations, whether the use of drones is allowed, and whether there is any additional security required for the mass gathering. The Mayor may also determine whether there are any other requirements within the granting of the permit that would be necessary to maintain the health, safety, governance and good order of the city within the authority granted by law.

University Drone Policies

University of Texas at El Paso UAV Policy

Note: This list is just a sample… many more could be added.

 

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)

Urban Air Mobility Advisory Committee

Texas DOT REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS OF UAM Advisory Committee

AAM is a next-generation transportation modality transforming America’s regional and interregional connectivity for the movement of people and goods. AAM includes a broad range of innovative aeronautics technologies, including a large class of UAS, VTOL aircraft, electric aircraft, and transformative air traffic management systems. UAM is a subset of a complex AAM ecosystem that focuses on high-density automated aircraft operations over densely populated areas, especially aircraft operations below 4,000 feet.

Texas Transportation Commission Urban Air Mobility Committee, constituted through the directive of SB 763, was tasked with assessing current state law regarding UAM and providing suggestions for potential changes, as well as providing guidance on the development of UAM operations and infrastructure for the State of Texas. The Committee embraced a broader interpretation of the directive to set a goal to identify and define the State’s path to adopting this new transportation modality. The guiding vision of the Committee was to “Maximize Opportunity and Safety” and included four principles:

1. Texas will be the destination for the early adaptation and development of UAM Technologies.

2. UAM will provide extensive business and economic opportunities for our residents.

3. The adaptation of the UAM paradigm will create equitable upward social mobility for our residents.

4. Texas will be the national role model for the safe deployment of UAM.

Through four working groups (Technology, Airspace and Infrastructure, Safety and Security, and Commerce and Community Integration), the Committee explored the intersection of policy and technology doctrine to develop a set of recommendations to support the UAM ecosystem development for the State of Texas. The Committee collects and synthesizes information on (i) state, national, and global contexts, (ii) technology and maturation level, (iii) state and federal laws, and (iv) strategic advantage of our State in developing the recommendations. The recommendations are summarized in the report.

 

2023 – Helicopter Institute executes agreement with Dallas CBD Vertiport

2023 – Volatus to build vertiport at Greenport airport development project

2023 – Aeroauto and Greenport International Airport Join Forces to Create a Futuristic Showroom for Urban Air Mobility

2023 – Aloft Selected for Pioneering North Texas Airspace Awareness Project, Leading the Way in Advanced Air Mobility

2023 – NASA AND JOBY COMPLETE AIR TAXI SIMULATION EXERCISE AROUND DALLAS-FORT WORTH

2024 – Houston hopes to have air taxis flying to the airport by 2026

2024 – Wisk and the City of Sugar Land, Texas, Partner to Bring Autonomous Air Taxis to the Greater Houston Region

2024 – Pilotless air taxis may come to Houston by 2030, with new partnership between Sugar Land, Wisk

2024 – The Integration & Commercialization of Advanced Air Mobility Aircraft and Logistics Systems

2024 – Port San Antonio to build vertiport for eVTOL aircraft

2024 – Wisk Aero, Houston Airports partner to bring autonomous air taxis to region

 

 

Short Essay Questions

Question 1

You have been hired by a Drone Startup Company. Your boss has immediately assigned this job to you.

They need you to prepare a one-page memo detailing the legalities of using your drone to search for two missing hikers in the vicinity of Palo Duro Canyon, pictured above.

They need you to mention any state laws and local ordinances.

They specifically want to know what airspace you will be operating in, and whether or not you need an airspace authorization, with or without LAANC capability.

Lastly, there is a bonus for you if, as you scroll through this chapter, you find any typos or broken links!

Question 2

Do the state drone laws implicate the First Amendment? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 3

Do the state drone laws implicate the Fourth Amendment? Or involve law enforcement officers obtaining warrants? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 4

Do the state drone laws contain a preemption clause? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 5

Does the state have UAM/AAM laws? If so, describe, citing the exact law.

Question 6

Are you aware of any new laws or policies not mentioned above? If so, describe, citing the exact law or policy.

 

 

 

License

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Drones Across the World Copyright © 2023 by Sarah Nilsson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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