Droning On

Current Legal and Industry Insight for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Today, November 20, 2020, the FAA published the first batch of proposed airworthiness standards for type certification of six different unmanned aircraft system (UAS) models for public comment. The publication of the proposed airworthiness standards (also known as a “G-1 Issue Paper”) is an essential regulatory step that needs to occur before the FAA can issue a type certificate for a UAS. It is a critical development because this means the FAA is on the verge of issuing the first-ever standard type certificates for UAS. The importance of type certification for the future of the commercial UAS industry in the…
When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September, 2017, it destroyed 90 percent of the cell sites on the island; knocking out most communication with the outside world and significantly hampering relief effort. AT&T responded by deploying its Flying Cell on Wings (COW) – a drone outfitted with LTE radios and antennas to provide temporary voice, data, and Internet service in Puerto Rico. As with other national disasters, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS or drone) technology is playing a vital role in America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the country, UAS technology can be safely deployed to assist impacted communities…
  White House doors now open to meeting with stakeholders about drone Remote ID In a much anticipated development, the Department of Transportation has just sent to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) the proposed rulemaking for remote identification (remote ID) of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or so-called “drones”). This is big news and an important step in moving drone policymaking forward in the United States to enable expanded commercial UAS operations. The commercial drone industry has grown to a level few could have imagined only a couple of years ago and technological advances continue to…
Canada’s drone industry is taking off. Like its neighbor to the south, the commercial remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) industry is growing quickly. In Canada, the industry has doubled in size every two years over the past decade. The economic impact of the expanding commercial drone industry in Canada and the U.S. is expected to surpass $7 billion by 2024. While the economic impact and societal benefits of commercial drone use in Canada are significant, Canadian regulators are grappling with the same questions faced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S.: How do you enable the continued safe…
The Evolving Space Launch Industry and the Need for Streamlined Regulations Commercial space launches have recently skyrocketed in quantity and complexity and the economic impact of these changes will be substantial. World-wide, the commercial space industry is expected to grow dramatically and Goldman Sachs analysts predict the sector would grow to about $1 trillion by 2040. As for quantity, the launch rate in the U.S. alone has increased from 9 licensed launches in 2015 to 33 licensed launches in 2018, and the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) predicts that up to 40 FAA-licensed commercial space launches will occur this fiscal year.…
The benefits of commercial drones are substantial. However, current rules limit the commercial marketplace from being able to take advantage of some of drone technology’s most obvious safety and efficiency benefits. To capitalize on the life-saving and economic benefits of drones, companies need to be able to fly in urban and suburban environments, where people are. To respond to disasters, they may need to fly near cities. Countless commercial drone use cases rely on the ability to fly over people. Recognizing this, in an effort to continue moving Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) integration forward, earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of…
The commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones) market is taking off in the United States and around the world. Recent innovations have transformed what used to be considered toys into powerful tools that provide substantial safety and efficiency benefits to the commercial industry, governmental institutions, and the public. However, many of the most promising drone-use cases require the ability to fly long distances beyond the range of human sight. Whether drones are being used to inspect oil and gas and other critical infrastructure in remote locations, respond to natural disasters like hurricanes, or deliver packages, companies need to be…
The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to bring a $2.8 million penalty against HobbyKing for marketing drone-attachable audio/video (AV) transmitters that operate on unauthorized frequencies. For marketers and retailers of unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) and attachable devices, this penalty signals that the FCC is cracking down on the makers and marketers of noncompliant UAS and UAS-attachable devices. This penalty also serves as a reminder to operators, who are required to have an FCC license to operate a drone, even if it only operates on amateur frequencies. According the FCC’s Notice of Apparent Liability, HobbyKing purported to offer UAS-attachable AV devices that…
Last year, for the first time, the FAA broadly authorized commercial drones here in the United States. Since that time, the commercial drone industry has grown to a level few could have imagined only a couple of years ago. Technology has moved quickly forward, and what used to be considered toys are now powerful commercial tools that are bringing economic and safety benefits to a wide range of industries. As drone technology has improved, we have also seen increasing numbers of headlines raising legitimate drone security issues. We discussed many of these drone security issues at the Domestic Drone Securities
Drones are the future of transportation and information technology. Recent innovations have transformed what used to be considered toys into powerful tools that provide substantial safety and efficiency benefits to commercial industry, educational institutions, humanitarian NGOs, and the public.  Once properly enabled, the integration of drones into our nation’s National Airspace System will save countless lives and have a significant economic impact here in the United States. However, many of the safety and efficiency benefits of drones require the ability to operate over people. To respond to disasters, or deliver packages, or gather the news, companies need to be able…
In the last few weeks, both houses of Congress have released draft FAA Reauthorization bills to continue FAA funding which runs out this fall. While the House bill’s proposal to privatize air traffic control in the United States has garnered the most attention, both the House and Senate bills contain lengthy and significant legislative language that could have a dramatic effect on commercial and hobbyist drone operations in the United States.  Below is a brief summary of the main UAS provisions in both the House and Senate version of the bill.  We are closely tracking this legislation and will keep…
In Europe, the United States and countries around the world, drone technology is advancing rapidly, and what used to be considered toys are quickly becoming powerful commercial tools that can provide enormous benefits in terms of safety and efficiency. However, before some of the most innovative drone applications can become reality, including things like package delivery and long-range infrastructure inspections, most countries, particularly those with more congested airspace, will need some form of a low-altitude traffic management system to ensure drones can avoid colliding with buildings, manned aircraft, or one another.  Developing such a safety system will be critical to…