Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

 

Agribusiness professionals are already proficient with a variety of federal regulations (USDA, EPA, etc.) but adding an unmanned aircraft system (“UAS”) into the business brings another agency into the mix – the Federal Aviation Administration – with its own set of regulations. In some scenarios this added regulatory burden may be worthwhile because UAS can be used to perform crop protection product (“CPP”) spraying operations (“spraying”) on crops more efficiently than manned aircraft, saving money for both farmers and consumers. Yamaha Motor Corporation, USA (“Yamaha”) recently announced it has been granted an FAA exemption for its FAZER unmanned aircraft system (“UAS”) to be used for agricultural spraying.

Continue Reading Agricultural UAS Receives FAA Approval

The proverbial hacksaw inside a prisoner’s birthday cake has been supplanted by a new technological trend for bringing contraband into the jailhouse – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”). As early as 2015, a fight broke out at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio when a drone carrying tobacco, marijuana, and heroin crashed into a yard inside the facility. That same year, a drone trafficking hacksaw blades, a cellphone, and Super Glue crashed into a maximum security prison in Oklahoma. Similar plots have been attempted in more than a dozen states nationwide, leading states like North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas to ban drone flights over correctional facilities. Perhaps to save us from another pre-emption fight over UAS operational restrictions, the federal government is now following suit.

On June 7, 2018 the FAA announced temporary flight restrictions over federal correctional facilities and certain U.S. Coast Guard facilities. The inclusion of Coast Guard facilities has no connection to the smuggling concerns faced by correctional facilities. Rather, the addition of Coast Guard facilities is simply an expansion of the FAA’s existing flight restrictions at select national security sensitive facilities that are operated by the Departments of Defense and Energy.

The new restrictions went into effect on June 20, 2018 and prohibit UAS operations between the surface and 400 feet above ground in the vicinity of thirty-three Coast Guard and correctional facilities. The restrictions are in effect 24 hours per day, seven days per week.

The correctional facilities located in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Coast Guard facilities are in Maryland, Massachusetts, California, North Carolina, Alaska, Florida, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Failure to comply with FAA and state UAS regulations (including temporary flight restrictions) can lead to significant civil and criminal penalties. Software developers must ensure their products are updated to appropriately avoid these restricted areas, and operators would be wise to check the FAA’s Know Before You Fly app before beginning their missions.

You can reach Husch Blackwell’s experienced team of UAS attorneys by contacting Erik Dullea and Chris Sundberg, who are happy to help your business more effectively utilize UAS technology and stay out of trouble with the FAA.

 

droneThe U. S. Department of Transportation (“USDOT”) announced a diverse set of winners for the 10 openings in USDOT’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Integration Pilot Program (“IPP”). As advertised, the program’s selectees consist of state, local and tribal governments (“Selectees”) that will partner with private sector entities to accelerate UAS integration into the national airspace system. Continue Reading USDOT Selects Ten Drone Integration Sites

drone with cameraOn Tuesday December 12, 2017, President Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”). Section 1092(d) of the NDAA restores the requirement that owners of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) used for recreational purposes (“Model Aircraft”) must register and mark their UAS in accordance with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (“FAA”) “Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft” published on December 16, 2015 (“Registration and Marking Requirements”).

Continue Reading National Defense Authorization Act Reinstates Marking and Registration Requirements for All UAS Owners

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.  droneIn 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

UAS droneAs 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.

Continue Reading Recent Federal Aviation Administration Initiatives Affecting UAS Operations

droneOn 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.

Continue Reading Federal Aviation Administration Restricts UAS Operations Over 133 Military Facilities

droneThe 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.

Continue Reading Federal Aviation Administration 2017 Unmanned Aircraft Systems Symposium, Days 1-2

UAS droneThe 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:

Continue Reading FAA Publishes Long Awaited Rules For The Commercial Operation of Small UAS

droneBoth 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.

Click here for more information regarding Husch Blackwell’s UAS team or contact David Agee.