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The proliferation of drones, or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), has resulted in a growing interest in preventing unlawful and potentially dangerous drone operations. Private entities are generally prohibited from taking self-help defensive actions (i.e., shooting down drones) and doing so may result in civil and/or criminal penalties.  As the interest in defenses grows, Congress has authorized the FAA to create more No-Drone Zones and funded an FAA pilot program for government defense technologies to protect government assets.

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The FAA has stopped processing Section 333 Exemption applications. With thousands of petitions in the queue, the FAA will make applicants that would qualify to operate under Part 107 wait until the new rule is effective in August to operate. Meanwhile, for those petitioners that will not fall under Part 107, the FAA will continue to process the Section 333 Exemption petitions.

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In the FAA Extension legislation, Congress implemented important safety provisions related to drones (also known as unmanned aircraft systems or “UAS”).  The language, which President Obama signed into law late last week, addresses UAS operations involving airports, critical infrastructure, and emergency response.

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FAA’s Part 107 regulations create a structure to integrate commercial small unmanned aircraft systems (also known as sUAS or drones) into the National Airspace System (NAS). As part of this structure, the FAA has given the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) a new and potentially time-consuming task: vetting commercial sUAS pilots who do not already have a certificate to operate manned flights. The proliferation of new applications underscores the importance of having an adequately staffed and funded TSA so integration of commercial sUAS is not delayed.

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Today, the FAA’s new rules regarding the commercial operation of small UAS (sUAS), which will be codified as 14 C.F.R. Part 107, were published in the Federal Register.  The new rules will become effective on August 29, 2016.

Commercial operators that want to take advantage of the new rules, but do not currently have a Section 333 exemption will have to wait until August 29th to begin operations.  Operators can start preparing for operations under Part 107 by getting any first-time pilots prepared to take the aeronautical knowledge test required for remote pilot certification.  More information about the pilot certification process may be found on the FAA’s website.  Entities that hold a Section 333 Exemption can continue to operate under their exemption, even after the new rules become effective.

More about the new rules can be found on our previous post here and Pillsbury’s client alert.

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A key milestone in regulating the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) final rule overhauls the current case-by-case exemption regime, establishes an operational framework, and creates a new certification process for commercial sUAS pilots. The new rule creates significant opportunities for a wide range of industries, particularly through its waiver provisions that allow for the approval of commercial sUAS operations outside of Part 107—including nighttime and beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations. The new rule will take effect in late August. Continue reading →

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Today, the FAA unveiled its final rule for the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), also known as drones.  Industries across the country have been waiting eagerly for the release of the new regulations, which provide a mechanism for commercial operation of sUAS.  Previously, commercial operations of UAS were only permitted pursuant to an individual application to the FAA and the case-by-case award of a Section 333 exemption.  The rule will take effect in late August and does not apply to model aircraft. Continue reading →

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This week’s news includes the continued rise of drone usage pretty much everywhere; a “drone freeze ray”; privacy issues around the shooting down of a drone; and other recent developments in UAV regulations and usage around the globe.

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Terms referring to drones are often used interchangeably among operators, regulators and manufacturers. Many people use the common term “drone,” while commercial operators, public organizations and associations refer to more specific terms, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), small UAS (sUAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS).

Below is a description of the different terms to help navigate in the drone (or your preferred term) industry. Continue reading →

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Last week, the FAA announced that it was lessening the regulatory requirements on schools, allowing students and faculty to use UAS (commonly known as drones) as part of their coursework. Additionally, the FAA announced that it was establishing a new long-term advisory committee that will advise the FAA on UAS issues.  These two actions are incremental, yet promising, steps forward towards integrating UAS into the National Airspace System (NAS) and helping to develop the UAS industry in the United States.

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