On May 19, 2017, the District of Columbia Circuit Court (the “D.C. Circuit Court”) issued a decision in Taylor v. Huerta, striking down a 2015 Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) Registration Rule (requiring owners of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) weighing between 0.55–55 lbs. to pay a $5 fee and register their UAS with FAA) to the extent that it applies to model aircraft. In its published opinion, the D.C. Circuit Court ultimately held that FAA’s Registration Rule clearly conflicts with Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which expressly prohibits FAA from promulgating and enforcing rules and regulations with respect to model aircraft. Continue Reading FAA Model Aircraft Registration Rule Struck Down
Informational Maps Released to Accelerate UAS Authorizations
As part of its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (“LAANC”) initiative, the FAA has been working to provide more detailed maps of the airspace surrounding the nation’s airports in order to more clearly communicate to operators of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) what airspace can be utilized for UAS operations.
Late last week, the FAA released the first batch of airspace maps (the “Maps”). By and large, the Maps identify airspace surrounding 200 smaller and more rural airports. Users can zoom in to view these airports and see individual 1 square mile grids, with the maximum above ground level (AGL) altitudes where drones may operate. As an example, the grids near Colorado Plains Regional Airport in Akron Colorado show maximum AGL altitudes ranging from 400 feet down to 0 feet. The FAA intends to publish additional maps as part of the agency’s 56-day chart production cycle. Future distributions will address many of the nation’s largest airports.
On April 7, 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) published a Notice to Airman (“NOTAM”), effective April 14, 2017, prohibiting the operation of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) over one hundred thirty-three military facilities to an altitude of four hundred (400) feet. In issuing the NOTAM, FAA is relying on its authority located in 14 C.F.R. § 99.7 to address national security concerns.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s 2017 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Symposium opened on March 27, 2017. Through the first two days of the conference, the FAA has focused on its efforts to work with UAS industry stakeholders to facilitate the integration of UAS into the national airspace system (“NAS”). In particular, the FAA has focused on three main issues: (1) the promulgation of performance based standards to accommodate future operations as UAS technology evolves; (2) the implementation of a technology based solution to facilitate compliance with FAA regulations and thus operation of UAS and further innovation; and (3) continued integration, as opposed to segregation, of various UAS into the NAS.
The FAA’s new regulations for the commercial operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (“sUAS”) became effective on Monday August 29, 2016. Specifically, Part 107 to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations has been added to allow for the routine civil operation of sUAS in the national airspace system. As we previously announced, highlights of the new Commercial UAS Regulations are as follows:
Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have now voted to pass, and the President has now signed, the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016 (the “Act”). The Act, which averts a shutdown of the FAA, funds the agency through September 30, 2017. Importantly, the Act contains a number of provisions related to unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”), including FAA requirements to:
- Publish guidance regarding the application for, and expedited approval of, exemptions or certificates of authorization or waiver for the use of UAS by civil or public operators in response to emergencies;
- Continue developing a research plan for the deployment of a traffic management system for UAS;
- Establish a pilot program for airspace hazard mitigation at airports and other critical infrastructure using UAS detection systems; and
- Develop a program, in coordination with NASA, to test and model the collision of UAS with various sized aircraft in a number of operational settings.
All inventors, developers, entrepreneurs and investors interested in the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems, or more commonly referred to as “drones,” take note; this morning the FAA announced the release of the long awaited regulations governing the commercial use of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems – to be promulgated in 14 C.F.R. Part 107 (the “Commercial UAS Regulations”). The new Commercial UAS Regulations make it much easier and less expensive for businesses to use drones to support their commercial operations. Highlights of the new Commercial UAS Regulations are as follows: Continue Reading FAA Releases New Commercial UAS Regulations
On Tuesday June 21, 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) announced the release of the long awaited regulations for the commercial operation of small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“sUAS”) – to be promulgated in 14 C.F.R. Part 107 (the “Commercial UAS Regulations”). The Commercial UAS Regulations will be effective sixty (60) days from the date of their publication in the Federal Register. Highlights of the new Commercial UAS Regulations are as follows:
On May 18, 2016 the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIA”) released a set of voluntary best practices for commercial and private unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) use. That best practice guide was the end result of a development process involving input from individuals and entities in the commercial, academic, civil, and government sectors. Some of these best practices include requiring drone operators to:
- Minimize operations over or within private property without consent of the property owner or appropriate legal authority;
- Have a detailed data collection policy and limit data collection to what is outlined in that policy;
- Not knowingly make the personal information of others public unless permission is first obtained; and
- Not use or share personal information for marketing purposes without first gaining permission.
The FAA issued a major announcement yesterday on the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) for educational institutions (link). Students of educational institutions no longer need a Section 333 exemption or other authorization to fly under certain conditions, provided that they follow the rules for model aircraft.