FAA imposes no-drone restricted flight zone around Baltimore bridge collapse


Following the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore Harbor in the US in the early hours of March 26, 2024, after being hit by a passing container ship, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a warning to pilots including drone operators not to attempt to fly in the vicinity.

Additionally, to enforce the warning, the FAA has imposed a no-fly zone around the bridge itself and the surrounding harbor area so that airborne rescue operations being conducted by rescue helicopters can continue without possible interference.

The FAA publicized its imposition of the no-fly zone on social media, accompanying details of the restriction along with a firmly worded warning that states –

“Drone pilots: The FAA has flight restrictions in place around the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse. Do not interfere with rescue operations. If you fly, emergency response operations cannot.”

The FAA no-fly zone restricts aircraft including drones from flying within five nautical miles (5.75 miles) and below 2,000ft (610m) above ground level (AGL) over the accident site.  According to Flightradar24, numerous emergency helicopters are operating in the area, scouring the water for signs of survivors.       

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was a major road bridge that spans Baltimore harbor. It collapsed after being struck by a cargo ship in the early hours of  Tuesday, March 26, 2024, sending several vehicles plunging into the water and setting off a huge emergency response, according to Maryland coastguard officials. The port of Baltimore near the bridge is the largest in the US for specialized and containerized cargo.

There are reported to be several vehicles in the water with seven persons missing at the time of writing. A  further person was rescued from the water but is described by emergency officials as “very seriously ill”.  

Additionally, Coast Guard crews are said to be searching for a road repair crew who had been working on the bridge, which carries a vital section of Interstate 695 across the city of Baltimore.


The cargo ship, a container vessel named Dali, struck the bridge at around 01:30 local time (05:30 GMT). The bridge collapsed upon impact with the ship and plunged into the water along with vehicles and people who were on the bridge at the time.

The ship is wedged between debris from the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which was 3km (1.6 miles) long. The vessel is reported to have lost power before the incident. Baltimore’s mayor has described the incident as “an unspeakable tragedy”.

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