Even with the rapid growth of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones, one of the FAA’s primary rules is that the pilot must maintain visual line of sight with the unmanned aircraft at all times. When waivers were granted for “extended line of sight” operations, visual observers on the ground were still required. Those operational constraints are about to change.

Collaborative projects between private industry and the Universities of Alaska-Fairbanks and Hawaii are transforming dreams into reality for the unmanned aircraft community. These technological accomplishments are laying the foundations to provide vital services to rural and outlying communities through long-distance search and rescue, surveying and telecommunications platforms mounted onboard solar powered drones.


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The FAA has continued to publish a variety of new opportunities and restrictions for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) pilots after the waves of actual and threatened shutdowns receded. At the end of January, Megan Herr described the FAA’s proposals for allowing UAS operations at night, and operations over people without needing a Part 107 waiver. The public comment period on these proposed rules ends on April 15, 2019.

On February 13th and 15th the FAA published two important restrictions for UAS operations.
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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.


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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.

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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”).

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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.
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Product Liability Monitor

September 8, 2017
New Developments
The SELF DRIVE Act Motors Through Congress
By Mark Pratzel

On September 6, 2017 the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 3388, also known as the “Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act,” also known as the “SELF DRIVE Act.” The broad, bipartisan support for this

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.

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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. 
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