Heads up, drone pilots: The airspace around Mauna Loa’s eruption is now restricted

An aerial view of Fissure 3 erupting on Mauna Loa.
An aerial view of Fissure 3 erupting on Mauna Loa.(Drew Downs | USGS)
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 3:37 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2022 at 5:03 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - As the Mauna Loa eruption continues to spew lava and dangerous volcanic gases into the air, officials are warning aircraft and drone pilots to stay away.

The FAA on Thursday issued a temporary flight restriction — or TFR — in the Mauna Loa area. That means aircraft, including drones and helicopters, are prohibited from flying in the zone.

The recent eruption has set the scene for some breathtaking photographs, but the FAA says drones and other aircraft could interfere with emergency operations.

“It’s a polygon-shaped TFR intended to provide aircraft safety in the airspace around the flows to prevent conflict and unsafe situations over the current eruption and lava flow fissure areas,” said Jessica Ferracane, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Ferracane said the TFR encompasses the fissures all the way to Daniel K. Inouye Highway — extending from the ground, all the way to the 1,500-foot level.

“This is the area where the greatest amount of emergency relief flights and monitoring work by USGS is being conducted,” Ferracane said. “This TFR is for safety reasons.”

The TFR is in effect until Dec. 8.

TFRs are issued for safety or security purposes and usually during natural disasters. They’re communicated through Notices to Air Missions (NOTAMs).

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