Gardner’s Wildfire Drone Legislation Included in Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization

Will Deter Unauthorized Drone Use over Colorado Wildfires 

FAA screenshot 

NOTE: View Senator Gardner’s remarks here or by clicking on the photo above. 

Washington, DC- Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, voted today in favor of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The bill, which passed 93 to 6, aims to reauthorize federal aviation programs with airport infrastructure, improvements in safety and service for the flying public, and improves innovation in the aviation industry.

This bipartisan five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration represents the first long-term bill since 2012. It contains several Gardner-backed provisions, including his effort to make unauthorized drone use that interferes with wildfire suppression a federal felony. 

“This bipartisan legislation is good for Colorado’s airports and the thousands of people who fly in our state each day,”said Senator Gardner. “As wildfires hit Colorado this year, I heard directly from the men and women fighting fires and was pleased to work to include a provision to deter the idiotic behavior of unauthorized drone use over wildfires. Going forward, I will continue my efforts to support Colorado’s airports and protect our airspace.” 

Gardner Wildfire Provision Included in FAA Bill
Earlier this year, Senators Gardner and Bennet introduced the Securing Airspace for Emergency Responders (SAFER) Act of 2018, to make it a felony to fly unauthorized drones over wildfires. Congressman Tipton introduced companion legislation in the House. The measure was in response to Senator Gardner hearing firsthand from men and women fighting wildfires in Colorado about the problems drones are creating for their efforts. (Watch Senator Gardner talk about the issue at a press conference earlier this year.)

Background on drone wildfire legislation

Additional Gardner Provisions in FAA Bill

  • An amendment is included cosponsored by Senator Gardner to allow Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds to be used for the installation of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) equipment. This provision is aimed at providing additional options for airport security needs. 
  • An amendment included by Senator Gardner encourages FAA to continue its feasibility assessment into providing access to the 1300-1350MHz band for non-federal use. This band provides great opportunity for commercial services and considering whether it can be appropriately cleared will advance the more efficient use of federal spectrum.



Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Budget Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.