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.
Reported by the AP, another unmanned aircraft system (“UAS”) was recently spotted in the vicinity of the White House, prompting a security lock down. This is the first publicly reported UAS incident by the White House since a federal worker crashed his UAS on the White House grounds in January.
Since 2010, the FAA has prohibited all UAS operations – commercial or recreational – in Washington, DC airspace. As explained in the flight restrictions, the FAA may take administrative action for violations, including imposing civil penalties or the suspension and revocation of FAA certificates, and the U.S. Government may pursue criminal charges or use deadly force against the airborne aircraft if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat. After the January White House incident, the FAA has also taken efforts to educate the public, launching a “No Drone Zone” public outreach campaign to reinforce the message that Washington, DC and the area within a 15-mile radius of Ronald-Reagan Washington National Airport are off limits to UAS.