The U.S. Forest Service is highly interested in new technologies and believes there is potential to fly Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to support a host of natural resource management activities, including forest health protection, wildfire suppression, research, recreational impacts, and law enforcement.
In addition, other federal, state, and local agencies; researchers; businesses; members of the public; and others are interested in flying UAS on National Forest System lands for a variety of purposes.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as regulatory authority over all airspace. The U.S. Forest Service is working to integrate UAS in furthering the agency's mission and to provide for UAS flights by other entities on National Forest System lands in alignment with FAA regulations.
The FAA and the U.S. Forest Service consider all UAS, regardless of size or weight, to be aircraft. All UAS flown on National Forest System lands must comply with FAA and U.S. Forest Service laws, regulations and policies.
Firefighting aircraft - such as air attack aircraft, lead planes, airtankers and helicopters - typically fly in smoky, windy and turbulent conditions. Safety depends on knowing what other aircraft are operating in the airspace and where they are at all times. This is compromised by the presence of unauthorized UAS.