Excerpts from U.S. Federal
Aviation Regulations (FAR)
Part 101 related to unmanned free balloons.
THIS DATA CURRENT AS OF THE FEDERAL
DATED NOVEMBER 26, 2001
Prepared and footnoted by Mike
Manes, W5VSI, for Edge of Space Sciences
14 CFR PART 101
-- MOORED BALLOONS, KITES, UNMANNED ROCKETS AND UNMANNED FREE BALLOONS
Subpart A --
(a) This part prescribes rules governing the operation in
the United States, of the following:
(4) Except as provided for in
§101.7, any unmanned free balloon
(i) Carries a payload package
that weighs more than four pounds and has a weight/size ratio of more
than three ounces per square inch on any surface of the package, determined by
dividing the total weight in ounces of the payload package by the area in square
inches of its smallest surface;
(ii) Carries a payload package
that weighs more than six pounds;
(iii) Carries a payload, of two
or more packages, that weighs more than 12 pounds; or
(iv) Uses a rope or other device
for suspension of the payload that requires an impact force of more than 50
pounds to separate the suspended payload from the balloon.
No person may conduct operations that require a deviation
from this part except under a certificate of waiver issued by the Administrator.
§101.5 Operations in prohibited or restricted
No person may operate a moored balloon, kite, unmanned
rocket, or unmanned free balloon in a prohibited or restricted area unless he
has permission from the using or controlling agency, as appropriate.
§101.7 Hazardous operations.
(a) No person may operate any moored balloon, kite,
unmanned rocket, or unmanned free balloon in a manner that creates a hazard to
other persons, or their property.
(b) No person operating any moored balloon, kite, unmanned
rocket, or unmanned free balloon may allow an object to be dropped therefrom, if
such action creates a hazard to other persons or their property.
Subpart D -- Unmanned Free Balloons
This subpart applies to the operation of unmanned free
balloons. However, a person operating an unmanned free balloon within a
restricted area must comply only with §101.33 (d) and (e) and with any
additional limitations that are imposed by the using or controlling agency, as
§101.33 Operating limitations.
No person may operate an unmanned free balloon --
(a) Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, below 2,000 feet
above the surface within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B,
Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport;
(b) At any altitude where there are clouds or obscuring
phenomena of more than five-tenths coverage;
(c) At any altitude below 60,000 feet standard pressure
altitude where the horizontal visibility is less than five miles;
(d) During the first 1,000 feet of ascent, over a congested
area of a city, town, or settlement or an open-air assembly of persons not
associated with the operation; or
(e) In such a manner that impact of the balloon, or part
thereof including its payload, with the surface creates a hazard to persons or
property not associated with the operation.
§101.35 Equipment and marking requirements.
(a) No person may operate an unmanned free balloon unless
(1) It is equipped with at least
two payload cut-down systems or devices that operate independently of each
(2) At least two methods,
systems, devices, or combinations thereof, that function independently of each
other, are employed for terminating the flight of the balloon envelope;
(3) The balloon envelope is
equipped with a radar reflective device(s) or material that will present an echo
to surface radar operating in the 200 MHz to 2700 MHz frequency range.
The operator shall activate the
appropriate devices required by paragraphs (a) (1) and (2) of this section when
weather conditions are less than those prescribed for operation under this
subpart, or if a malfunction or any other reason makes the further operation
hazardous to other air traffic or to persons and property on the surface.
(b) No person may operate an unmanned free balloon below
60,000 feet standard pressure altitude between sunset and sunrise (as corrected
to the altitude of operation) unless the balloon and its attachments and
payload, whether or not they become separated during the operation, are equipped
with lights that are visible for at least 5 miles and have a flash frequency of
at least 40, and not more than 100, cycles per minute.
(c) No person may operate an unmanned free balloon that is
equipped with a trailing antenna that requires an impact force of more than 50
pounds to break it at any point, unless the antenna has colored pennants or
streamers that are attached at not more than 50 foot intervals and that are
visible for at least one mile.
(d) No person may operate between sunrise and sunset an
unmanned free balloon that is equipped with a suspension device (other than a
highly conspicuously colored open parachute) more than 50 feet along, unless the
suspension device is colored in alternate bands of high conspicuity colors or
has colored pennants or streamers attached which are visible for at least one
§101.37 Notice requirements.
(a) Prelaunch notice: Except as provided in paragraph (b)
of this section, no person may operate an unmanned free balloon unless, within 6
to 24 hours before beginning the operation, he gives the following information
to the FAA ATC facility that is nearest to the place of intended operation:
(1) The balloon identification.
(2) The estimated date and time
of launching, amended as necessary to remain within plus or minus 30 minutes.
(3) The location of the launching
(4) The cruising altitude.
(5) The forecast trajectory and
estimated time to cruising altitude or 60,000 feet standard pressure altitude,
whichever is lower.
(6) The length and diameter of
the balloon, length of the suspension device, weight of the payload, and length
of the trailing antenna.
(7) The duration of flight.
(8) The forecast time and
location of impact with the surface of the earth.
(b) For solar or cosmic disturbance investigations
involving a critical time element, the information in paragraph (a) of this
section shall be given within 30 minutes to 24 hours before beginning the
(c) Cancellation notice: If the operation is canceled, the
person who intended to conduct the operation shall immediately notify the
nearest FAA ATC facility.
(d) Launch notice: Each person operating an unmanned free
balloon shall notify the nearest FAA or military ATC facility of the launch time
immediately after the balloon is launched.
§101.39 Balloon position reports.
(a) Each person operating an unmanned free balloon shall:
(1) Unless ATC requires
otherwise, monitor the course of the balloon and record its position at least
every two hours; and
(2) Forward any balloon position
reports requested by ATC.
(b) One hour before beginning descent, each person
operating an unmanned free balloon shall forward to the nearest FAA ATC facility
the following information regarding the balloon:
(1) The current geographical
(2) The altitude.
(3) The forecast time of
penetration of 60,000 feet standard pressure altitude (if applicable).
(4) The forecast trajectory for
the balance of the flight.
(5) The forecast time and
location of impact with the surface of the earth.
(c) If a balloon position report is not recorded for any
two-hour period of flight, the person operating an unmanned free balloon shall
immediately notify the nearest FAA ATC facility. The notice shall include the
last recorded position and any revision of the forecast trajectory. The nearest
FAA ATC facility shall be notified immediately when tracking of the balloon is
(d) Each person operating an unmanned free balloon shall
notify the nearest FAA ATC facility when the operation is ended.