Personal model aircraft policies adjusted at military installations
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- If you or someone you know recently got a personal model aircraft or are thinking about purchasing one soon, you may want to be aware of some of the changes that have been made to the policy on Kunsan Air Base.
“In addition to the threat of enemy surveillance, unregulated remotely piloted aircraft flight around an active airfield could easily result in damage to military and civilian aircraft operating out of Kunsan AB,” said Capt. Stephan Goodwin, 8th Security Forces Squadron plans and programs officer in-charge. “In order to address these risk factors, personal RPA use is prohibited within the confines of Kunsan AB and violation of this policy will be subject to criminal punishment and/or administrative action."
Beyond flight safety, Goodwin said there are also security concerns with flying model aircraft on base.
“Many RPAs are equipped with visual recording devices and are capable of providing surveillance of sensitive areas. This is a threat to operational security,” Goodwin said.
Anyone who wants to fly an ultra-light, personal model aircraft off base in the Republic of Korea for any purpose will need to register their PMA with the Korean National Government's Minster of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.
The Republic of Korea government prohibits most PMA use within a 9.3 kilometer radius around airfields, to include Kunsan AB, densely populated areas, and altitudes above 150 meters. PMA flight within this area requires the operator to file a flight plan with the Minister of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs and gain approval for that flight, according to Capt. Goodwin.
“Essentially, the Republic of Korea is treating a PMA like a vehicle, in that you have to register it, obtain proof from an outside agency determined by the MLTMA that it is safe to operate, and ensure that the device fits within defined standards,” Goodwin said. “After accomplishing the above items one can only fly the device in a clear open area well away from populated areas, commercial and military aircraft operations, and the DMZ all while keeping the device under 150 meters, refraining from any photography with the device, and operating only during daylight hours.”
The increased popularity of recreational PMA coupled with recent incursions at military installations demanded changes to the PMA guidelines for use at PACAF installations. Most Airmen at Kunsan are on one-year tours and may look to use PMA when back in the US. Here are some general guidelines to be aware of for other bases. Check with your new base’s SFS for local procedures before flying a PMA.
- Operators will comply with requirements in the FAA's model aircraft website.
- PMA must be operated in approved areas which are defined as locations that do not interfere with operations, safety or security of personnel, facilities or resources. The PMA also must not be flown in careless or reckless manners.
- PMA cannot be flown within 5 miles of the airfield and must be flown at altitudes below 400 ft. above ground level, remaining clear of surrounding obstacles.
- The use of PMA is prohibited during force protection condition (FPCON) Bravo or higher. PMA must not be used when winds are greater 15 knots.
- Must not be outfitted or retrofitted with audio or visual recording devices. PMA operators must disable or remove any recording devices before each flight.
- Must be flown only in approved areas or locations that do not interfere with the operations, safety or security of personnel, facilities, and/or resources.