The FAA added nine new companies to its Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capabilities (LAANC) initiative. The press release is available here. In addition to the five existing companies, the new companies will provide near real-time authorizations to small commercial drone operators to fly in controlled airspace near 500 airports. The FAA will open its application process for more LAANC partners in January 2019, and again in July 2019.
Last week, the FAA amended its Compliance and Enforcement Program for enforcement against drone operators that interfere with wildfire response. This update follows the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, in which Congress authorized the FAA to penalize individuals up to $20,000 for knowingly or recklessly interfering with wildfire responses. FAA personnel must send cases to the FAA Chief Counsel’s Enforcement office, signaling that the FAA believes enforcement action is the appropriate deterrent.
On Tuesday, the FAA posted an update in anticipation of the arrival of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas this week, available here. Today, the FAA issued an informational press release to drone operators for Hurricane Florence, available here. In addition to storm-related information for commercial airline travelers and Air Traffic Control impacts, the FAA warns drone operators that interfering with emergency responses may result in fines exceeding $20,000 and civil penalties. Although drone operators should heed FAA’s warning for safety and compliance reasons, drones can also be an important resource during disaster recovery. Opportunities for drones to help in the recovery of Hurricane Florence will include, among others: Search and rescue operations by local authorities; Insurance assessments for private property damage; and Infrastructure damage assessments. However, the proliferation of drones for recreational and commercial purposes has also posed a challenge to emergency response operations. The presence of a drone can…
On July 20, 2018, the FAA issued a press release to clarify its position on federal preemption of state and local laws relating to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The brief release reminds states and municipalities that they are preempted from regulating aircraft operations, including flight paths, altitudes, or navigable airspace. On the other hand, however, the FAA acknowledges that states and local governments have the power to regulate landing sites for drones through their land use powers.
On July 11, 2018, DOT’s General Counsel and FAA’s Chief Counsel sent a stern response to the Uniform Law Commission’s (ULC) draft model tort laws for drones, claiming that the ULC had created an “incorrect impression” that their agencies concurred with the model rules and requested the ULC strike any reference to ULC’s contacts with DOT and FAA counsel. Although the agencies deny that they have taken an official position on the relationship between Federal regulation and State and local authority over drones, the letter explains that the FAA’s State and local drone law guidance does not support ULC’s suggested per se exclusion zone up to 200 feet. The FAA goes so far as to raise “decades of established precedent” would conflict with ULC’s proposed rule and that Federal courts have rejected the notion of applying traditional trespass law to aircraft overflights.
The letter highlights the increasing uncertainty of federal preemption over airspace laws as tensions between new federal, State, and local drone laws grow. Operators, on the other hand, want a settled legal landscape in which to operate. The drone industry should closely follow the development of ULC’s model rules, which may be the precursor to future State and local rules and play an important role in defining the future relationship of federal, State, and local regulation of drones.
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…
As the second anniversary for FAA’s rules for the commercial operation of small UAS (sUAS)—Part 107—quickly approaches, this Insight Series will provide updates regarding on-going UAS rulemaking efforts since Part 107. Although Congress has required more FAA action and the industry has been clamoring for guidance to open the skies to UAS with new rules, the FAA has been limited in its rulemakings and many rulemakings have been significantly delayed. However, the recently released Report on DOT Significant Rulemakings (March 2018) and the Agency Rule List (Fall 2017) suggest the FAA is making progress and new rules will be proposed in 2018. Continue to follow our Insights for analyses of newly proposed and final UAS rules.
The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (“ARC”) released its recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”). Despite a lack of consensus on issues, the recommendations should help the FAA develop new rules for drone identification and tracking. Although the FAA was scheduled to publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on identification (“ID”) and tracking requirements in May 2018, the proposed rules remain under review by the Department of Transportation and have missed a February 2018 deadline for the Office of Management and Budget to start its review. It is unclear when the rulemaking will progress.
Launched in June 2017 to address concerns over “rogue” drones flying in the National Airspace System (“NAS”), the FAA tasked the ARC with providing recommendations regarding UAS remote identification and tracking technologies. Comprised of three Working Groups; Existing and Emerging Technologies, Law Enforcement and Security, and Implementation, its membership represented a broad range of aviation and UAS industry stakeholders. The ARC met several times to educate the public, gather information, and to discuss and deliberate among members and finalized its report in September 2017.
As of 1 February of 2018, new rules promulgated by the Swedish Transport Agency will apply to drones. The most significant changes are that all drones weighing less than 150 kilos will be covered by the rules. It will therefore no longer matter if the purpose of the flight is private or commercial. Drones used for special activities – military, customs, police, search and rescue, fire fighting, coast guard and accident investigation – will be exempted from the new rules. For these activities, special conditions apply instead. The license requirement for drones weighing less than 7 kilograms and flying within sight will be removed. Carl Svernlöv outlines the other changes introduced by the new regulations below.
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.