All in Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Last week, the Department of Transportation’s Report on Significant Rulemakings revealed that the timing for issuance of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Remote ID for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) had slipped again, this time from September to December 2019. Speaking at a conference in Seattle yesterday, FAA Chief Counsel Arjun Garg emphasized that the FAA remained committed to issuing the Remote ID NPRM as soon as possible, but that they “want to get it done right,” and no one would benefit from an NPRM that failed to address all of the relevant issues.
In an innovative use of existing criminal statutes, the US Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia has secured a guilty plea from a man accused of planning to use an unmanned aircraft system (UAS or drone) to smuggle marijuana into a state prison. The crime? A federal charge under 49 USC § 46306 (b)(6) and (c)(2), which makes it unlawful to “knowingly and willfully operate or attempt to operate an aircraft eligible for registration knowing that” the aircraft is not registered, and which imposes a five year prison sentence if the offense is “related to transporting a controlled substance by aircraft.”
Over the past couple of years, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC)’s work on drone tort law has become a topic of conversation and careful attention throughout the unmanned aircraft system (UAS or drone) community. Last year, the ULC considered a draft uniform drone tort law that would have jeopardized the future of the UAS industry, which sparked widespread concern; this year, going into its final meeting, the ULC’s drafting Committee has worked hard to address the issues raised by industry and government stakeholders and is proposing a substantially revised draft.
Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) held the fourth annual UAS Symposium in Baltimore. Following that three-day conference, on Thursday the Drone Advisory Committee (DAC)—the federal advisory committee that advises the FAA on UAS regulatory and policy issues—held its first meeting following the appointment of 12 new members last month.
One day soon, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, commonly called drones) may be able to deliver pizzas and packages to our doorsteps. But some in the UAS industry are using UAS to deliver even more essential cargo—lifesaving medical devices.
On February 13, 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published (1) a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) over People; (2) an advanced NPRM (ANPRM) on the Safe and Secure Operations of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems; and (3) an Interim Final Rule (IFR) on an External Marking Requirement for Small Unmanned Aircraft. Comments are due for the NPRM and the ANPRM in 60 days. Comments are due for the IFR in 30 days, and the IFR becomes effective in 10 days.
Despite the government shutdown, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has finally released two highly-anticipated rulemaking documents related to commercial unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations. Yesterday, the agency published a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (draft NPRM) on the Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems over People and a draft advanced NPRM (draft ANPRM) on the Safe and Secure Operations of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
Drones featured prominently at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, as in previous years. While last year Intel dazzled attendees with a 250-drone light show above the Bellagio fountains using its Shooting Star drones, the drone-related events grabbing attention this year concern the applications and technologies that will bring commercial drones into the future.