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!

Product Liability Monitor

February 8, 2017
New Developments
Autonomous Vehicle Technology Regulation In the Trump Administration
By Eric B. Krauss
Last autumn President Obama revealed his administration’s plan for autonomous driving technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) published fifteen guidelines in September, 2016, that were almost widely lauded as striking the right balance between safety and

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

On March 9, 2016, the Senate introduced the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2016 (S. 2658), and it contains the following provisions related to unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) regulation and consumer protection:

  • Directs the FAA to develop an online knowledge and safety test which operators of UAS must pass before flying.drone with camera
  • Directs the FAA and NASA to develop a pilot program for a UAS traffic management system, with 6 test sites.
  • Directs both the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the Comptroller General to develop a report on UAS privacy best-practices.
  • Creates a new commercial and governmental UAS registration database.
  • Creates a civil penalty of up to $20,000 to operate UAS in a way which interferes with firefighting, law enforcement, or emergency response activities.

Continue Reading Senate FAA Reauthorization Bill Focuses on Drone Regulations

“For centuries, humans all around the world have dreamed of flying to space,” says Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. “Now, at last, space travel is open to all of us…for the first time in history, space exploration is a possibility for everyone who dares to dream of it.”

Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong after landing the X-15 on the dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base (NASA Dryden Research Center)

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip 2, under development by Burt Rutan’s Scaled Composites, offers flights above 100 kilometers (62 miles) at speeds reaching 2,600 mph after being carried aloft and launched from its White Knight mother ship. A seat on SpaceShip 2 costs $250,000.

SpaceShip 2 aims to duplicate the feats of the X-15 rocket planes conceived and built during the 1950s. Virgin Galactic acknowledges its debt to “the iconic X-15 program that so inspired our own vehicles.”

Continue Reading Back to the Future: SpaceShip 2 and the X-15

droneOn September 16, 2015, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in conjunction with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., announced the successful completion of a flight test demonstrating the “maturity” of a prototype “detect-and-avoid system” for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”).  The detect-and-avoid system would allow UAS to safely avoid other aircraft while operating in the National Airspace System (“NAS”).

Continue Reading NASA, Industry Complete Third Phase of UAS Flight Testing

Delivery droneThe first legal delivery by an unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or “drone,” took place last Friday, July 17. In three trips over a 35-mile span, the UAS delivered 60 pounds of needed medical supplies to a health clinic located in a remote rural area of Wise County, VA.

As part of a joint venture called “Let’s Fly Wisely,” Australian startup Flirtey, NASA, Virginia Tech and a number of healthcare organizations worked together to obtain the FAA’s one-time approval of the deliveries, which were conducted under strict conditions.

Continue Reading First Legal Drone Delivery