Before you head out with your drone to explore what the state of Tennessee has in store for you, you have to be aware of the drone laws in Tennessee else you risk getting into trouble with the law.
Are drones allowed in Tennessee?
It is legal to fly drones in the state of Tennessee. It has federal, state, and local laws that govern the flying of drones in the state. However, you cannot fly your drone in Indiana state park, and you can’t also use a drone to give you a hunting advantage.
In this article, I will cover everything you need to know about Tennessee drone laws for you to enjoy a pleasurable flight with your drone and stay clear of any legal proceedings.
- Federal Drone Laws In Tennessee
- Federal Drone Laws for Recreational Flying in Tennessee
- Federal Drone Laws For Commercial Drone flying in Tennessee
- Federal Drone Laws for Public Drone Flying In Tennessee
- State Drone Laws In Tennessee
- Tennessee State Parks Policy
- Senate Bill 1892
- Senate Bill 2106
- House Bill 153
- Senate Bill 1777
- House Bill 2376
- Ref Senate Bill 796
- The Tennessee Hunter Protection Act 70-4-301 to 303.
- 39-13-902: Lawful capture of images – Use for lawful purposes
- 39-13-903: Unlawful capture of an image with intent to conduct surveillance a misdemeanor offense -Defense
- 39-13-904: Possession or distribution and use of unlawfully captured images – Misdemeanor offenses – Separate images constitute separate offenses – Defenses
- Local Drone Laws In Tennessee
- Frequently Asked Questions on Tennessee Drone Laws
- Final Thoughts on Tennessee Drone Laws
Federal Drone Laws In Tennessee
The United States drone laws are the federal drone laws that apply to Tennessee and every state in the United States of America and were created by the federal government.
If you have a small drone that is less than 55 pounds, you can fly recreationally by following the Drone Laws in the USA as defined by FAA Part 107 guidelines.
Federal Drone Laws for Recreational Flying in Tennessee
You can fly your drone for recreational purposes in Tennessee as a hobby without seeking monetary compensation as long as you follow the FAA law (Part 107) and also check the state jurisdiction for additional licensing, permission, and clearance requirements.
Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Tennessee to keep you, your drone, and everyone safe in the airspace.
- Fly your drone only for recreational use or as a hobby.
- Follow the safety guidelines of an FAA-recognized Community Based Organization (CBO). Recreational flyers should follow the safety guidelines of existing aeromodelling organizations or use the FAA-provided safety guidelines per Advisory Circular 91-57B.
- Keep your drone within your visual line of sight or use a co-located visual observer (physically next to) and in direct communication with you.
- Don’t fly close or interfere with a manned aircraft.
- Fly below 400 feet in controlled airspace (Class B, C, D, and E) after obtaining permission from LAANC or FAA Drone Zone.
- Fly below 400 feet in uncontrolled airspace (Class G). Note: You can also be prohibited from flying in a Class G airspace in areas designated as prohibited areas, restricted areas, military operated areas, alert areas, etc. except given prior authorization from the FAA.
- Take The Recreational UAS Safety Test (TRUST) and carry proof of test passage.
- Always slap your registration number on the exterior surface of your drones and always carry the proof of registration with you. As a recreational flier, you are exempted from registering and marking your drones by the FAA as long as your drone weighs less than 0.55 lbs (250 grams).
- Do not dangerously operate your drone. For example:
- Do not interfere with emergency response or law enforcement activities.
- Do not fly under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Avoid flying near or over critical infrastructure.
You should be aware that you could be liable for civil and/or criminal penalties if you intentionally break any of these rules and regulations listed above as a recreational drone pilot.
As a recreational drone pilot, you are obliged to learn the rules and regulations put in place by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the proper use of drones for recreational flying.
You should also apply common sense when operating your drone in crowded public places, historic resources, and public places to keep everyone safe.
Federal Drone Laws For Commercial Drone flying in Tennessee
You can fly your drone for commercial purposes in Tennessee with the aim of seeking monetary compensation as long as you follow the FAA law (Part 107) and also check the state jurisdiction for additional licensing, permission, and clearance requirements.
Below are the federal rules to follow while flying your drone for recreational purposes in Tennessee to keep you, your drone, and everyone safe in the airspace.
Step 1: Learn the Rules
- Read and understand the dos and don’ts as a commercial flyer the under Part 107 rules. Review a summary of the Part 107 rules (PDF). Still unsure if Part 107 rules work for you and your intended UAS operation? Check the FAA user identification tool.
- You can obtain a waiver to exceed some limit put in place by the FAA that is not covered by Part 107. Below are some laws in Part 107 that are subject to a waiver.
- Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. *
- Always operate your drone during the day. *
- Keep your drone from out of the Visual line of sight from an aircraft operation *
- Keep your drone in your Visual line of sight. *
- Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems. *
- Yielding the right of way. *
- Don’t fly your drone over people. *
- Restriction from certain airspace. *
- Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.
- *The FAA will not waive this section to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.
- You should read about the Part 107 Waiver application process if your drone operation requires a waiver.
- Commercial drone operators should steer clear of flying close to airports as it might be challenging for human aircraft to spot and avoid a drone in flight. Keep in mind that the UAV operator is accountable for any safety threat their drone poses in an airport area and must avoid crewed aircraft. Read more about flying near airports.
Step 2: Become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test
- To be eligible to get your Drone License (Remote Pilot Certificate), you must be:
- At least 16 years old
- Able to read, write, speak, and understand English
- Be in a physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS
- Review the entire process to get your Drone License or Remote Pilot Certificate.
- Study for the Knowledge Test by reviewing the Test Prep materials provided by the FAA.
- Obtain an FAA Tracking Number (FTN) by creating an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) profile before registering for a knowledge test.
- Schedule an appointment to take the Knowledge Test at an FAA-approved Knowledge Testing Center.
- Once you’ve passed your test, complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
- You are now eligible to operate as a commercial drone pilot.
Step 3: Register your drone with the FAA
- Pay the registration fee of $5 with your credit card or debit card to get a valid three year license to commercially fly drones.
- Visit dronezone.faa.gov and select “Fly UAS under Part 107” to create an account and register your drone.
- After that, mark the exterior surface of your drone (PDF) with your registration number for identification and tracking if it were to get stolen
Always be sure to fly your drone safely and within FAA guidelines and regulations. It is up to you as a drone pilot to know the rules of the sky and where it is safe to fly. You should try the user identification tool if you aren’t sure if Part 107 is right for you and your operation
Federal Drone Laws for Public Drone Flying In Tennessee
Federal public laws are drone laws for federal, state, local, or tribal government entities, including schools and universities that use unmanned aircraft systems or drone technology for their operations.
Federal Restrictions & Requirements
- Be a political subdivision of the United States government, a State or U.S. territory government, the District of Columbia, or an Indian Tribal Government listed in the Robert T Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. § 5122)
- Own and operate the unmanned aircraft, or for non-federal public aircraft operators (PAO’s) have an exclusive lease on it for more than 90 days
- Fly missions that meet the statutory criteria of a governmental function on a flight-by-flight basis.
- Not fly for a commercial purpose or receive compensation for flight operations.
First responders and other organizations responding to natural disasters or other emergency situations may be eligible for expedited approval through our Special Governmental Interest (SGI) process. Operations that may be considered include:
- Search and Rescue
- Law Enforcement
- Utility or Other Critical Infrastructure Restoration
- Incident Awareness and Analysis
- Damage Assessments Supporting Disaster Recovery Related Insurance Claims
- Media Coverage Providing Crucial Information to the Public
To apply for a waiver through the SGI process, you must be an existing Part 107 Remote Pilot with a current certificate OR you must have an existing Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA). To submit a waiver through this process, fill out the Emergency Operation Request Form and send it to the FAA’s System Operations Support Center (SOSC) at [email protected] .
If approved, the FAA will add an amendment to your existing COA or Remote Pilot Certificate that authorizes you to fly under certain conditions for the specified operation. If denied, operators should not fly outside the provisions of their existing COA or part 107. Operators have the option to amend their requests.
* This process is called the Special Government Interest (SGI) amendment process and is outlined in FAA Order JO 7200.23A
State Drone Laws In Tennessee
Tennessee state drone laws are those drone laws that apply to the entire state of Tennessee, and were created by the Tennessee General Assembly.
The same regulations that apply to the use of aircraft also apply to drone operations in Tennessee State Parks. This implies that unless prior written consent from the park manager has been provided, operating, launching, or landing drones in state parks is forbidden.
This restriction does not apply to landing zones that have been defined by specific rules. Drones may not operate within 500 feet of swimming beaches, boat docks, piers, ramps, or within one mile of water-controlled buildings when it comes to water surfaces designated as landing sites.
Senate Bill 1892 defines the use of a drone to illegally monitor people or property as a Class C misdemeanor. The bill also identifies the unlawful act of possessing, sharing, or taking pictures without permission as a Class B misdemeanor.
Senate Bill 2106 prohibits the use of drones for spying, illegal evidence gathering, or data collection within 250 feet of vital infrastructure sites.
House Bill 153 prohibits flying drones above outdoor activities like fireworks shows without the owner’s permission. This is true for gatherings with a capacity of more than 100 people.
Senate Bill 1777 prohibits private companies from deploying drones to film private individuals who are properly engaged in hunting and fishing without their permission.
House Bill 2376 enables the use of drones by commercial and public higher education organizations. Thus, modifying Section 39-13-902(a)(1)
Senate Bill 796 enables the use of drones by law enforcement organizations with a valid search warrant in circumstances where quick action is necessary to prevent a life-threatening emergency or to combat dangerous terrorist acts.
The Tennessee Hunter Protection Act concerns the use of drones to interfere with the lawful exercise of taking wildlife. The statute makes it a Class C misdemeanor to use a drone with the intent of conducting video surveillance of private citizens who are lawfully hunting or fishing without first obtaining the written consent of the people being surveilled.
It is legal to capture an image using a drone in any of the following circumstances:
- for purposes of professional or scholarly research and development by a person acting on behalf of an institution of higher education;
- in airspace designated as a test site or range authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration for the purpose of integrating unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace;
- as part of an operation, exercise, or mission of any branch of the United States military, as long as it complies with the United States Constitution;
- if the image is captured by a satellite for the purposes of mapping;
- if the image is captured by or for an electric or natural gas utility for one of several listed purposes;
- with the consent of the individual who owns or lawfully occupies the real property captured in the image;
- “for law enforcement purposes,” as defined by another statute, (see Tenn. Code 39-13-609);
- if the image is captured by state law enforcement authorities, or a person who is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction or on behalf of state authorities to survey a catastrophe or determine whether a state of emergency should be declared, to preserve public safety or protect property or survey damage or contamination during a lawfully declared state of emergency, or to conduct routine air quality sampling and monitoring;
- at the scene of a spill, or a suspected spill, of hazardous materials;
- for the purpose of fire suppression;
- for the purpose of rescuing a person whose life or well-being is in imminent danger;
- if the image is captured by a Tennessee licensed real estate broker in connection with the marketing, sale, or financing of real property, provided no individual can be identified in the image;
- if the image is of real property or a person on that property;
- 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 Tennessee;
- in connection with oil and gas pipeline and well safety and protection;
- in connection with port authority surveillance and security;
- as authorized or permitted by the Federal Aviation Administration for use in a motion picture, television or similar production where the filming is authorized by the property owner and a state or local film permit agency, if necessary;
- as a part of a commercial service that has received authorization from the federal aviation administration to use unmanned aircraft or an unmanned aircraft operating under regulations promulgated by the federal aviation administration for commercial use of unmanned aircraft; (19) when an image is “captured by a state or local government agency, or by a person who is under contract with or otherwise acting “Under the direction or on behalf of such agency, [it] shall be handled in accordance with 39-13-609 and shall not be used for any purpose other than the lawful purpose for which the image was captured as permitted by this section.” A recent amendment to the statute provides that it is legal to use drones to capture images in land surveying; by the department of transportation; or photogrammetric mapping.
39-13-903: Unlawful capture of an image with intent to conduct surveillance a misdemeanor offense -Defense
If drones are used to capture images in any of the following ways, the actions result in a Class C misdemeanor:
- uses an unmanned aircraft to capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property in Tennessee with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image;
- knowingly uses an image captured for law enforcement purposes by a state or local law enforcement agency, or by a person who is under contract with or otherwise acting under the direction of or on behalf of such agency;
- uses an unmanned aircraft to intentionally capture an image of an individual or event at an open-air event venue wherein more than one hundred individuals are gathered for a ticketed event, provided there is no consent from the venue owner or operator;
- knowingly uses an unmanned aircraft within or over a designated fireworks discharge site, fireworks display site, or fireworks fallout area during an event, subject to provided definitions of “discharge site,” “display site,” and “fallout area”; or
- knowingly uses an unmanned aircraft over the grounds of a correctional facility;
- knowingly uses an unmanned aircraft within two hundred fifty feet of the perimeter of a critical infrastructure facility without the business operator’s written consent for the purpose of conducting surveillance of, gathering evidence or collecting information about, or photographically or electronically recording, critical infrastructure data.
39-13-904: Possession or distribution and use of unlawfully captured images – Misdemeanor offenses – Separate images constitute separate offenses – Defenses
The statutes create a Class C misdemeanor offense when a person possesses an image in violation of the law and a Class B misdemeanor when one “discloses, displays, distributes, or otherwise uses that image.” Each image creates a separate offense.
The section concludes by listing two separate defenses to these charges:
- that one destroyed the image as soon as he or she had knowledge it was captured illegally, or
- that one “stopped disclosing, displaying, distributing, or otherwise using the image” as soon as he or she had knowledge it was captured illegally.
Local Drone Laws In Tennessee
Tennessee local drone laws are those drone laws that apply only to certain regions, cities, or counties within the state of Tennessee and were created by various authorities within the state.
Davidson County prohibits the use of any drones or flying machines in its parks.
Drone flight is not allowed in Nashville Metro Parks except in three designated areas: Warner Park, Peeler Park, and Cane Ridge. A permit is necessary to fly drones in these designated areas.
Frequently Asked Questions on Tennessee Drone Laws
Can you fly a drone over private property in Tennessee?
You can fly a drone above a house or private property in Tennessee as long as you don’t fly below the minimum height, hover around the property, or use your drone to capture or record the occupants without permission from the occupants or property owner.
Can you fly a drone in Tennessee without a license?
Recreational drone pilots don’t need a license to fly a drone in Tennessee, but you must pass a free online safety test (TRUST). However, commercial drone flyers must get a certificate (Part 107) from the FAA. Furthermore, all drones weighing more than 249 grams must be registered to operate in Tennessee.
Can you shoot down a drone in Tennessee?
Shooting down a drone in Tennessee is illegal and against federal law because drones are protected by the FAA. You could serve some jail time or pay a large fine if you shoot down a drone in Tennessee. You are advised to report it to the authorities if you see a drone hovering above you or your property.
Final Thoughts on Tennessee Drone Laws
Tennessee has wonderful scenery you can explore with your drone for recreational or commercial purposes. However, you need to abide by the drone laws set by the FAA, your state government, and local authorities in that city to enjoy a hassle-free flight.
You should also check out the best places to fly a drone in Tennessee if you want to see beautiful places that are legal to fly in various cities.