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.

 

ABH at the Controls Risk Management principles have been applied in business and industry for years, becoming the subject of ISO/IEC Standard 31000:2009. They have also found their way into aviation, and particularly general aviation, where the layers of infrastructure and backup in airline operations are absent, and pilots must largely operate on their own.

John and Martha King, the respected operators of the King Schools, have preached the gospel of applying risk management principles to GA. They offer a series of “Practical Risk Management” training materials covering a range of flying activities. They have also spoken and written widely on the subject, forthrightly addressing the hazards of GA flying by using mistakes they made during their long career to illustrate the factors that can result in bad decision making in the air and on the ground. Their efforts have helped make risk management become a subject of interest and discussion in the GA community. Continue Reading Air Safety: Managing Risk Management

compassOn March 8, 2014 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, a Boeing 777, departed Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board. As it left Malaysian airspace the pilot, 53-year old Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, said, “Good night, Malaysian 370” to controllers. One minute later its transponder signal disappeared from radar screens. No further communications with the aircraft occurred. Malaysian radar showed that that the plane reversed course and flew southwest across Malaysia for half an hour. It reached the west coast of Malaysia, turned northwest, and continued on that course for another half hour before radar contact was finally lost.

Continue Reading Air Safety: Malaysia Air Flight 370: The Final Report

airplaneOn October 27, 2016 a chartered Eastern Airlines Boeing 737 carrying Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence and 36 others skidded off a wet runway at LaGuardia Airport on a rainy fall night. The incident gained some notoriety, not only because the candidate was aboard, but also because the cockpit voice recorder transcript revealed that, after the incident,  the captain said, “My career just ended,” and the co-pilot said, “We should have went around.”

Continue Reading Air Safety: “My Career Just Ended!”

jet“Cessna 1234A cleared for takeoff, caution wake turbulence from the departing Citation jet.” It’s a common warning at controlled airports where light planes mingle with jets and airliners.  Encountering wake turbulence at low altitude immediately after takeoff is a well-known danger that can have fatal results.  But wake turbulence is increasingly recognized as a danger to all aircraft, at all levels.

Continue Reading Air Safety: Caution—Wake Turbulence!

jetSixty-five years ago, on May 2, 1952, aviation history was made when a de Havilland Comet departed London for Johannesburg, South Africa—the world’s first passenger jet air service. It was a proud moment for Britain and its aircraft industry.

Post-war air travel was dominated by the American-made Lockheed Constellation and Douglas DC-6, and airlines—including British Overseas Airways Corporation, the UK’s flagship international carrier–lined up to buy them. British manufacturers made a bold decision to leapfrog over the piston-powered, propeller-driven American airliners by adopting turbine power. England led the United States in wartime jet engine technology, and hoped to take advantage of this by beating America with the first jet transport.

Continue Reading Air Safety: A Falling Comet

airportThe recent US ban on laptops and tablets electronic devices from carry-on luggage from flights from 10 Middle Eastern Airports, and a more limited UK ban, have been widely condemned by the aviation press and the airline industry as arbitrary, ineffective and counterproductive. There is no factual basis for the airports selected, the UK list differs from the US, and the bans can be evaded by taking a connecting flight from elsewhere.[1]

These issues raise a more fundamental question: Does the enormous cost and burden imposed upon the airlines and the traveling public by the all-encompassing TSA airport security regime provide any real benefit?

Continue Reading Air Safety: Do Away with TSA?

compassOn the second anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Air flight MH370, this blog explored the known facts and concluded, “Unless and until the wreckage is located on the ocean floor and the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder data recovered, the most plausible scenario is deliberate human action, most likely by one of the cockpit crew.”

Thereafter, the search area was refined, but in January, 2017 further search efforts were ended. As a result, recovery of the vital “black boxes” is highly unlikely.

Continue Reading Air Safety: The Fate of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370—Revisited