On June 22, 2017, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA), John Hoeven (R-ND), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced bi-partisan legislation designed to advance the development of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and build on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) efforts to safely integrate them into the National Airspace System. The Safe Development, Research, and Opportunities Needed for Entrepreneurship Act of 2017, or Safe DRONE Act of 2017, is meant to ensure that the United States is able to keep pace in the development and implementation of unmanned technology. The proposed legislation comes just after UAS industry stakeholders indicated that more regulation would be essential to propelling UAS development forward.
The Trump Administration has proposed that Air Traffic Control (ATC) functions be shifted away from the FAA to a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization, arguing that the move would allow for increased efficiency particularly in terms of modernization by changing the ATC system from radar-based to satellite-based. If adopted, this plan could accelerate the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones) into our national airspace system (NAS).
On May 19, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued its opinion in John Taylor v. Michael Huerta striking down the Federal Aviation Administration’s Registration Rule, which required the owners of small unmanned aircraft operated for recreational purposes to register with the FAA. (See Registration Rule announcement and full text of the rule.) The Registration Rule was effective on December 21, 2015, but only applied to small unmanned aircraft (UAS) used for hobby or recreation.
- 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)
- The Civil Aviation Administration of China will introduce real-name registration for drones. (Ecns.cn)
- For the first time, New York City firefighters employ a drone to monitor a dangerous fire. (Bart Jansen, USA Today)
- There’s a new fine for drone users caught flying without a license in Dubai. (Nawal Al Ramahi, The National | UAE)
- Aerospace company Thales launches the ECOsystem UTM and partners with drone management company Unifly. (sUAS News)
- 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)
- Amazon has been awarded patents for delivery drones with wings and legs. (Arjun Kharpal, CNBC)
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.
- Accidentally knocking someone out with a drone gets a man jail sentence (and fine). (Joseph Hincks, Fortune)
- Snap considered drones as a product line. (Darrell Etherington, TechCrunch)
- Safety rules for drones (and trains and automobiles) may be affected by a Trump administration’s executive order. (Stephanie Beasley, Bloomberg BNA)
- Juan Plaza breaks down what the Drone Advisory Committee focused on in its second meeting. (Juan Plaza, Commercial UAV News)
- Oklahoma legislator proposes bill to allow destruction of drones. (AP News)
- West Virginia lawmakers pass regulations on drone use. (Ashton Marra, The Intelligencer)
- An invisible fence keeps the drones from the President. (Kaveh Waddell, The Atlantic)
- Wildlife officials warn operators to keep drones away from fires. (Ron Rungan, The Arizona Republic)
- There were 37 violators of new drone regulations in Japan in 2016. (The Japan Times)
- How are drones changing real estate? Here are nine ways. (Ilyce Glink, CBS News)
- Drones continue to change the construction industry, as well. (Bob Violino, ZDNet)
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
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.