Category

Commercial Developments

Category

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,…

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…

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…

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…

In mid-January, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and the U.S. Federal Aviation  Administration (“FAA”) released a long-awaited proposed rule permitting unmanned aircraft system (“UAS” or “drone”) operations at night and over people. Once the rule is finalized, it will allow commercial operators to fly UAS operations previously restricted under the current Part 107 rules (14 C.F.R. §107) without an individualized waiver from the FAA (14 C.F.R. §107.200).

These rules show that the FAA is advancing from a one-size-fits-all regulatory structure to a more nuanced regime based on risk and safety analyses. For the most part, the rule is not based solely on weight. Instead, it incorporates performance-based requirements to achieve the agency’s safety objectives. Basing UAS restrictions on performance and risk is more consistent with European rules and other countries with advanced UAS regulations.

While the proposed rule represents a step in the right direction, the rule is not likely to be finalized for many months or longer, because the FAA indicated the rule would not be finalized until after the FAA addresses the contentious issue of remote identification of UAS. In the proposed rule—which is expected to be published in the Federal Register next week—the FAA states that it “plans to finalize its policy concerning remote identification of small UAS—by way of rulemaking, standards development, or other activities that other federal agencies may propose—prior to finalizing the proposed changes in this rule.”

On April 19, the US Government issued a fact sheet outlining a new policy (the “New UAS Policy”) on exports of US-origin unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”) and a new National Security Presidential Memorandum (“NSPM”) updating the United States Conventional Arms Transfer Policy (the “New CAT Policy”). These changes do not directly impact the export licensing requirements on UAS under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (“ITAR”) or the Export Administration Regulations (“EAR”). However, according to statements made in a press briefing on these developments, the new policies reflect the Trump Administration’s interest in enabling US manufacturers of UAS to “level the playing field” and increase exports of these products to US allies and partners. They also evidence a broader effort to increase considerations of economic interests in arms transfer decisions. Direct Commercial Sales Perhaps the most significant change made by the New UAS Policy is to allow exports of certain…

The FAA is rolling out the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capacity (“LAANC”), a tool which is allowing operators of small unmanned aircraft systems (“sUAS” or drone) operators  to get immediate approval for certain operations in controlled airspace.  The introduction of LAANC will benefit commercial operators by decreasing the planning time required for many drone operations and increase flexibility in decisions.  LAANC is currently supported at about 50 airports from Miami to Anchorage and is scheduled to expand next year.