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This week’s news includes drones fighting fires and illegal dumping; new fines for drone usage; new patents by Amazon; and other recent developments in UAV regulations and usage around the globe.

  • Drone pilots acknowledge the need for legislation for UAS flights. (Tamara Chuang, The Denver Post)

  • An sUAS operator is granted a nighttime UAS waiver for inspection and mapping. (The American Surveyor)

  • UAV maker DJI proposes new max weight for lowest-risk category of drone. (International Mining)

  • For the first time, New York City firefighters employ a drone to monitor a dangerous fire. (Bart Jansen, USA Today)

  • North Carolina legislators introduce bill to make it illegal to fly a drone too near a prison. (AP)

  • Community groups in Ireland will use drones to fight illegal dumping. (Ciarán D’Arcy, The Irish Times)

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This week’s UAS news includes a DAC meeting, drones getting into trouble, more ways that drones are impacting existing industries, and other recent developments in UAV regulations and usage.

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The American Bar Association (“ABA”) Forum on Air & Space Law recently launched a committee on Drones: Regulations, Operations and Litigation (“Drone Committee”).  This new committee aims at serving the ABA community and beyond to provide insights on current and upcoming Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) developments and challenges.

Each month, the Drone Committee offers a webinar featuring an expert speaker in the field of drones to discuss a specific UAS law issue, followed by a Q&A session with the audience.  Earl Lawrence, FAA’s Director of UAS Integration Office, and Mark Aitken, Director of Government Relations at AUVSI, already participated in previous Drone Committee webinars.  They discussed, among other topics, the FAA’s next UAS rules and provided a Congressional update on the integration of UAS in the national airspace system.  The Drone Committee is also developing other future programming.

The next Drone Committee webinar is scheduled for March 9, 2017 at 1:00pm EST.  The webinar will feature Diana Marina Cooper, Vice President of Legal & Policy Affairs at PrecisionHawk, a leading UAS manufacturer and provider of airspace management solutions that promote safety and privacy in UAS operations.  Diana will discuss the issue of privacy associated with the use of drones, specifically the current situation regarding privacy, the main challenges, how the industry has responded, and what the future may hold.

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Last month marked the second meeting of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The meeting was held in Reno, Nevada and offered DAC members their first substantive opportunity to address a wide variety of issues related to the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones), including preemption, access to airspace, and funding UAS integration.  Continue reading →

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Airports around the globe are considering new methods to respond to the proliferation of unmanned aircraft systems (also known as “UAS” or “drones”) and the increased number of near-misses between drones and airplanes. In addition to strengthening its laws to curb such operations, the third busiest airport in the world, Dubai International Airport (DXB), has taken a technological approach to the problem—a sophisticated watchdog drone which can detect other drones flying in the airport’s perimeter and track down the operator’s location. Continue reading →

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The European Union (EU) is on the verge of revising its regulations for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”) operations in Europe. The revisions will shift the regulation of UAS away from EU Member States to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), as well as incorporate a risk and performance-based approach for UAS regulation.  Continue reading →

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In the world of unmanned aircraft systems, 2016 will be best remembered for the FAA’s release of its final Part 107 regulations for commercial small UAS operations. (See here for more on Part 107.) However, the beginning of December marks that special time of year—a time for the FAA to turn its focus back to operators of recreational UAS.

Continue reading →

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Last week, the FAA sent a new proposed rule for operations of sUAS (aka “drones”) over people to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (“OIRA”).

Currently, Part 107 for the commercial operation of sUAS prohibits operations above non-participants without a waiver.  This new rule would provide relief from current Part 107 operational restrictions and would significantly impact various industries eager to exploit UAS applications, such as news & media coverage, search & rescue, real estate, and construction.

With this new development, the FAA continues to expand the sUAS regulatory framework.  A rule for micro-UAS weighing less 4.4 pounds is also in FAA’s direct line of sight.

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Think your application for a Part 107 waiver is going to fly through the FAA like a drone?  Think again.  The FAA is throwing some cold water on these expectations.  Earlier this week, the agency issued a Part 107 notice to applicants, reporting it has granted 81 ATC authorizations and issued 36 waivers,  but denied 71 waiver requests and 854 airspace authorizations.  The agency recommends applicants to review and understand the applicable requirements, and demonstrate solid safety mitigations. Continue reading →

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In light of the FAA’s new rule (or Part 107) for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS), the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry has eagerly pushed the U.S. government to initiate testing of drone delivery systems. Although Part 107 suggests the FAA will likely expand the uses of drones, the rule does not allow for such drone applications in the National Airspace System (NAS).  Among the various companies expressing interests in using drones to deliver goods, are industry giants Amazon PrimeAir (Amazon) and Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Continue reading →