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Jennifer Trock

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The FAA recently announced the release of its new vertiport design guidelines, Engineering Brief No. 105 for Vertiport Design (“Guidance”). The Guidance marks a significant milestone in the FAA’s efforts to support the development of infrastructure required for Advanced Air Mobility. The Guidance provides interim safety standards for eVTOL take-off and landing facilities, which are commonly referred to as “vertiports” or “vertistops.” Incorporating FAA research, collaboration with industry, and public feedback, the new Guidance provides key resources to infrastructure facilities and developers as they plan for the integration of eVTOL aircraft into mainstream use. Ultimately, the FAA expects the guidance to evolve into a performance-based design standard in the form of an Advisory Circular, which may be influenced by design standards developed by other stakeholders, including standards development organizations and other jurisdictions’ aviation authorities. The Guidance provides interim guidelines for civil vertiport designers to establish an acceptable level of safety,…

In a recently issued enforcement policy, the FAA announced a discretionary approach to its enforcement of Remote ID Rule requirements applicable to the production of unmanned aircraft, to account for the delay in the FAA’s recent acceptance of a means of compliance (“MOC”) required by the Remote ID Rule.  This discretionary policy will apply to the requirement that drone manufacturers submit a declaration of compliance with an FAA-accepted MOC on or before September 16, 2022.  Under the policy, the FAA will exercise discretion whether to take enforcement action for any noncompliance with this requirement on or before December 16, 2022.  The FAA will consider all circumstances when exercising its discretion, including, in particular, the delay in the FAA’s recent acceptance of an MOC.  Affected manufacturers are encouraged to coordinate closely with the FAA. Under 14 C.F.R. Part 89 (“Part 89”), established by the Remote ID Rule, designers and manufacturer of…

The FAA has selected the New York UAS Test Site at the Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York for a project supporting safe drone integration and the development of a new traffic management system for unmanned aircraft systems.  The project is designed to test and evaluate new applications for use in future UAS traffic management (“UTM”) systems.  The selected test site is part of New York’s 50-Mile Drone Corridor, which facilitates beyond visual line of sight (“BVLOS”) testing and advanced uncrewed aircraft operations.  The project will be managed by the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance (“NUAIR”), a nonprofit organization that manages the New York UAS Test Site, and will also involve the participation of several other partners, including NRA Technologies, OneSky, AX Enterprize, Cal Analytics, the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, and Oneida Indian Nation. This project represents the FAA’s continued recognition of the need to support and integrate…

Last week in a unanimous opinion, the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the FAA’s 2021 Remote ID Rule, finding the Petitioner’s various constitutional and procedural claims without merit. Remote ID requirements, akin to requiring a “digital license plate,” are widely supported by industry as an essential stepping stone to the expanded use of drones in U.S. airspace. In essence, Remote ID will allow drones to be identified while airborne, greatly enhancing safety and security of drone operations. The FAA’s Remote ID Rule requires operators to have Remote-ID equipped UAS by September 2023. In this case, the Petitioner’s challenges to the Remote ID Rule were primarily focused on concerns that Remote ID technology could allow the government to carry out continuous surveillance in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Other claims included procedural claims alleging the rule was arbitrary and capricious, among others. In dismissing the facial challenge, the Court found that…

With the FAA’s final Engineering Brief for Vertiport Design anticipated to be released within the next few months, this summer has seen an uptick in congressional activity to support the development of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) infrastructure necessary for eVTOL and UAS operations. Following the House’s passage of the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act (AAMCLA), in 2021, the Senate passed a companion bill in March 2022 that was recently approved (and amended) by the House in June 2022. The bill has since been referred back to the Senate. The Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act Both the Senate and House versions of the AAMCLA seek to establish an inter-agency working group that would be tasked with developing recommendations regarding federal support of AAM “safety, operations, security, cybersecurity, [and] infrastructure” development. The working group would consist of representatives from the FAA, Departments of Transportation, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security…

According to a FAA statement reported by multiple media outlets last week, the FAA has decided to modify its regulatory approach and certify electric vertical take-off and landing (“eVTOL”) aircraft as a “special class” aircraft using the existing “powered-lift” aircraft category. As discussed previously, the FAA has been deciding between two approaches to the type certification of eVTOLs—either (a) type certification using airworthiness standards in 14 C.F.R. Part 23 for “Normal Category Airplanes,” which normally fly only horizontally, combined with special conditions for eVTOLs (e.g., vertical flight), or (b) certification under the FAA’s aircraft certification procedures for “special classes” of aircraft in 14 C.FR. § 21.17 (b) (“Special Class Framework”), whereby airworthiness standards derived from other FAA regulations are incorporated as appropriate. The ultimate direction will have significant implications for both eVTOLs’ route to market and future operational requirements (e.g., pilot requirements, infrastructure, etc.). In light of the industry’s expectation…

As momentum around Advanced Air Mobility (“AAM”) continues to build, regulators have taken several recent steps in support of the development and commercialization of electric vertical take-off and landing (“eVTOL”) aircraft.  eVTOLs are an innovative and emerging AAM technology with potential to deliver sustainable passenger and cargo transportation in urban, inter-city, and rural use cases, using electric power to take off, hover, and land vertically.  The regulatory regime for eVTOLs and AAM is rapidly taking shape, and stakeholder awareness and engagement will be critical on issues such as infrastructure, streamlining regulations across jurisdictions, and aircraft certification.  Recent developments in these areas include: On March 2, 2022, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on a draft Engineering Brief (EB) 105 for Vertiport Design.On March 3, 2022, the FAA and the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (“UK CAA”) issued a joint statement announcing that…

Despite strict current regulations, the Vietnamese government is making strides in promoting the use and integration of UAS. UAS have been listed as one of the prioritized technologies for research, development and application under the recent Decision of the Prime Minister No. 2117/QD-TTg dated 16 December 2020. In particular, the Government and enterprises of Vietnam have especially promoted the use of UAS in agriculture and monitoring of energy utilities.  In the agriculture sector, users have applied for UAS to aid in spraying of pesticides and identification of pest-infected areas.  According to a recent official letter from the Ministry of National Defense (“MND”), the MND confirmed the policy that would facilitate the import and preferential tariff and fee treatment of UAS specialized for agriculture purposes, as well as encourage and facilitate research and manufacturing.  In the energy sector, since 2019, the National Power Transmission Corporation, a state-owned enterprise that is currently…

Join the Executives’ Club of Chicago and its Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum as industry experts discuss future developments in the transportation industry and cover important updates around freight, interconnected infrastructure, autonomous and micro mobility, and public transit.Amidst the backdrop of 2020, when people moved from point A to point B less than ever, transportation innovation persisted as active, energetic, and future-focused. Leaders in technology, transportation, and logistics are moving the needle on the efficiency and safety of moving goods and people – whether it’s across town or across the globe. Exciting trends in micromobility, freight, automation, and autonomous mobility inspire a myriad of questions for business leaders to navigate. As innovation in this sector continues, we must think critically about the effects on consumer safety, land use and traffic patterns, industrial space needs, and the environment.As a long-standing partner of the Executives’ Club, Baker McKenzie is happy to offer complimentary registration for…

On November 17, the FAA announced that it has completed the second and last phase of its Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (“UTM”) Pilot Program (“UPP”), conducted in partnership with NASA. The conclusion of the drone demonstration phase is a significant milestone in paving the way for operations beyond visual line of sight (“BVLOS”). The lessons learned from UPP will support ongoing policy and technology advancement efforts toward enabling BVLOS operations. In the near term, the FAA is expected to release its final rule on the remote identification of drones (“Remote ID”) and a proposed rule for operations over people and at night by the end of this year or early in 2021. These rulemakings will incorporate information and data developed during the UPP. Remote ID is viewed by the FAA as a critical step in the development and deployment of UTM systems to enable routine BVLOS operations. Established in…