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MIA was the only airport represented among the hearing witnesses

Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD) Director Emilio T. González testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation on March 15, in Washington D.C., as the only airport representative among six witnesses invited to testify about unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly referred to as drones. Director González was invited to testify because of Miami-Dade County's leadership in local drone mitigation and its large population of drone operators.

In January 2016, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners passed Florida’s first local drone safety ordinance, which was drafted by MDAD and approved by Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez. The ordinance prohibits drones from being flown within one mile of the end of County airport runways or half a mile from the runway’s centerline, unless authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and carries with it a civil penalty of $500 – the maximum County fine available.

Of the 580,000 drone registrations across America, 35,000 of those are within the state of Florida - which accounts for six percent – and a large number of those registrations are from Miami-Dade County, Florida’s most populated area. MIA also ranks as America’s busiest U.S. airport for international freight, third-busiest for international passengers and twelfth-busiest for total passengers. These factors, in addition to South Florida’s appealing weather and venues for outdoor activities, make MIA a prime case study for managing safe drone integration into the national air space.

In all of 2016, the Miami FAA tower recorded 28 sightings near MIA, which is more than double the 11 sightings we had in 2015. With nine sightings already this year, we are on pace to record more than 50 events near MIA in 2017. From the airport perspective, needless to say, safety and security are paramount concerns. As drone technology becomes increasingly more widespread and advanced for recreational and commercial purposes alike, it is critical to our local and national security that airports get ahead of this safety threat instead of catching up to it.
Miami-Dade Aviation Director Emilio T. González

In addition to the County drone ordinance, MDAD is actively exploring geo-fencing and other drone mitigation technology that can prevent drones from flying within the one-mile boundary of MIA or the County’s four general aviation airports.

To request materials in accessible format, Sign Language Interpreters, CART services and/or any accommodation to participate in any Miami-Dade Aviation Department (MDAD) public meetings and events please email the ADA Office at or call the office in 305-876-7747 five days in advance to initiate your request. Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing may also call 711 (Florida Relay Service).