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Jennifer Trock

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The commercial UAS industry in Mexico has become a complex ecosystem composed of technology, product, demographic, and market issues. The diverse applications, data and use that can be obtained from UAS operation is already changing the way companies do business in a large number of sectors, such as logistics, inspection, security, mining, agriculture, safety and other industrial applications that UAS can make more productive and economic. According to the Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), there are approximately 450 registered organizations, including private companies and governmental entities that are using UAS in Mexico. Some of the governmental entities using UAS in their operations are the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Navy, the Center for Research and National Security, as well as the Ministry of Public Security. Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) is one of the hot topics in the UAS world and commercial/industrial application. Many…

On August 17, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued a joint interagency advisory on the use of technology to detect and mitigate unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS” or “drones”) by non-federal public and private entities. The disabling or destruction of a drone through physical force or electronic interference (such as jamming) is a federal crime. The joint advisory provides an overview of the federal laws and regulations that apply to various UAS detection and mitigation measures, which include not only criminal statutes enforced by DOJ, but also a range of laws and regulations administered by the FAA, FCC, and DHS. As detailed in the joint advisory, the use of technology to track and monitor UAS may have numerous legal consequences, even when no action is taken to disable or interfere with a UAS. Accordingly,…

On July 24, 2020, the Trump Administration announced a new policy (the “Updated UAS Policy”) on exports of US-origin unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”), also known as “drones.” The Updated UAS Policy follows the Trump Administration’s UAS policy reforms announced in April 2018 (“April 2018 UAS Export Policy”), which allowed exports of certain US-origin armed and unarmed UAS to occur via direct sales between US companies and foreign end users. Our previous blog post on the April 2018 UAS Export Policy is available here. The Updated UAS Policy does not change UAS export licensing requirements under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations or the Export Administration Regulations, but does remove a major restriction on exports of US-origin UAS. The Trump Administration’s new policy comes at a time when the UAS regulatory climate is undergoing rapid transformation. As previously discussed on Baker McKenzie’s UAS Insights blog, the Federal Aviation Administration is in…

The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has issued guidance for the use of counter-unmanned aircraft systems (“C-UAS”) actions by federal law enforcement agencies, which are authorized by the Preventing Emerging Threats Act of 2018 (the “Act”).  The guidance establishes a process for the federal government to select facilities and assets that warrant protection with C-UAS technology, and sets forth the types of C-UAS actions that may be authorized.  UAS operators should stay apprised of these developments to ensure that their operations remain lawful and do not trigger C-UAS actions in response, and should look for opportunities to help shape C-UAS policies going forward. Under the Act, codified at 6 U.S.C. § 124n, the U.S. Attorney General may authorize federal law enforcement agencies to take certain actions to mitigate threats posed by UAS to particular assets or facilities identified by federal law enforcement agencies.  Id. § 124n(a).   To be covered under the Act,…

Innovation has been at the forefront of the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with multiple industries adapting to provide essential goods and services. Following the widespread adoption of social distancing measures earlier this year, the UAS industry has demonstrated the potential of expanded drone operations through the delivery of critical supplies. In light of COVID-19, the U.S. federal government has expressed interest in helping the UAS industry bring new drone applications to market through expedited regulatory approvals under the current framework and accelerating the implementation of a broader regulatory framework for expanded drone operations. Drone deliveries of critical supplies in response to COVID-19 have been made possible through the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program (“IPP”), under which the FAA has granted waivers from the operating limitations prescribed by 14 CFR Part 107. Currently, expanded drone operations such as flights at night, beyond visual line of sight, and over people,…

The FAA recently issued a request for public comment on a policy for the type certification of certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS” or “drones”). The policy applies to both large UAS (55 pounds or more) and certain small UAS weighing less than 55 pounds (“sUAS”) operating outside the limitations imposed by 14 CFR Part 107. sUAS operating under Part 107 (or with a waiver under Part 107) are not required to have airworthiness certification, but all other civil UAS must receive airworthiness certification from the FAA or an exemption from such requirements. The FAA specifies UAS used for package delivery as those affected by the policy; type certification for these drones would streamline the process for manufacturing and airworthiness certification, accelerating commercial deployment within the U.S. While the FAA contemplates a future rulemaking, the proposed policy is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing legal requirements and…

On December 26, the FAA released its long-anticipated proposed rule that would require the remote identification (“Remote ID”) of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS,” or “drones”) in the United States. The proposed rule is an important step in advancing UAS policy-making in the U.S. and addressing emergent safety and security issues, such as close encounters between drones and manned aircraft and unlawful drone operations in places such as airports, military bases, outdoor events and civil infrastructure. As addressing these safety and security issues is critical to the advancement of new and innovative commercial drone applications, UAS stakeholders will wish to comment on the proposed rule and its benefits, burdens, costs, viability and any issues not addressed. The proposed rule had been delayed on three separate occasions, most recently in September, and is viewed by federal authorities and industry stakeholders as a linchpin to further UAS integration and expansion of operations currently…

Last month, the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transport (Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes) (“SCT”) published a Mexican Official Standard (“NOM-107”) establishing requirements to operate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (“RPAS” – also known as “UAS” or “drones”) in Mexican air space.  NOM-107 classifies RPAS into different categories based on their maximum take-off weight. Regardless of their classification, RPAS may be operated for (a) recreational, (b) private non-commercial, and (c) commercial use. Operators are required to comply with certain requirements depending on the classification and use of the RPAS.  In general terms, all RPAS must be registered before the recently created Federal Civil Aviation Agency (Agencia Federal de Aviación Civil) (“AFAC”), which is charged with enforcing the guidelines to operate RPAS. RPAS used for private non-commercial and commercial purposes must carry civil liability insurance. NOM-107 regulates RPAS for private non-commercial and commercial use differently from RPAS for recreational use. In this…

The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) announced last week that it received approval from the FAA to conduct test flights with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) at Wichita’s Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (ICT). KDOT will incorporate UAS to assist with obstruction analysis, foreign object detection, wildlife hazard management, and airfield emergency response. The UAS operations are part of the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program, which is intended to accelerate the integration of UAS technology. KDOT is one of ten state and local government entities across the country selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to participate in the program. Between 2019 and 2021, participants in the program will collect data on advanced types of UAS operations that now require special authorization, such as operations over people, nighttime operations, and package deliveries. This data will aid the DOT and FAA in developing new rules to support more complex…

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced earlier this month that the long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on remote identification for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) has been delayed for a third time. The NPRM is now projected to be issued in December 2019. Remote identification is the ability of a drone to transmit identifying information while in flight to other parties, such as the FAA, federal security agencies, and law enforcement. Current UAS regulations do not provide a way for federal and state authorities to determine a drone’s identification except by physically inspecting the registration number, which often is not possible. As a result, many UAS operations can be conducted anonymously, including those that violate the FAA’s regulations. Remote identification would greatly enhance the ability of state and federal authorities to respond when a drone is flown in an unsafe or unlawful manner. The FAA has described…