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Drone Law

No one can deny the benefits presented by Unmanned Aircraft Systems a/k/a Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), such a drones. For example, UAVs can present a school or a business with an affordable and efficient means of obtaining aerial photographs, collecting data and conducting surveillance. In the not-to-distant future, we expect to see companies making package deliveries via UAV. The benefits of the technology are both broad and exciting. As with every scientific advancement, however, the law must eventually evolve to catch up with the science. The evolution has begun, and Foley & Foley, P.C. stands at the forefront ready to assist our clients with a full understanding of the skyscape.

As drone sales skyrocket, and businesses begin to develop and implement plans for their use, safety concerns also mount. Therefore, we stand on the verge of a UAV regulation revolution.

In December 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a regulation requiring all operators to register all Unmanned Aircraft (including models) that weigh more than .55 lbs. Anyone who fails to register their UAV, could face hefty fines. Foley & Foley, PC is prepared to assist our clients with all matters relating to registration of their UAV, including challenges to that registration requirement.

Presently, anyone interested in using a UAV for business purposes must first obtain FAA approval. The three (3) possible means of approval are:

  1. Special Airworthiness Certificates – Experimental Category;
  2. UAV type and airworthiness certificate - Restricted Category; and
  3. Petition for Exemption with a civil Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) for civil aircraft to perform commercial operations in low-risk, controlled environments.

We at Foley & Foley, PC are positioned to assist any client seeking to apply for approval of a business use for their UAV.

The FAA recently proposed new UAV regulations intended to take effect in April 2016. Under the proposed regulations, UAV users will be "operators" and not "pilots”, which means the users do not have to obtain a pilot’s license. Instead of a pilot’s license, an operator will have to pass an aeronautical knowledge test to obtain an operator certificate from the FAA. In addition, the FAA’s proposed rules will permit operation of UAV at an airspeed of up to 100 mph and at an altitude of 500 feet. These inclusions in the rule will more easily open the door to many legal business uses such as surveillance, aerial photography, data collection and eventually package delivery. We anticipate that schools, research facilities, engineers, real estate businesses, photographers and many more businesses will seek to utilize UAV drone technology to expand and improve their work and service offerings. Foley & Foley, PC can help our clients (1) to understand the law; (2) to obtain any and all necessary government approvals; and (3) to minimize their liability associated with the use of drones.

Many businesses are concerned that the so-called line-of-sight restriction included in the newly proposed FAA regulation will preclude or significantly limit the use of drones in a business context. The proposal states that "at all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the operator for the operator to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses." Many want the UAV rules to reflect that new "sense-and-avoid technology” exists that can enable safe operation of drones even when they travel beyond the operator’s line-of-sight. Until the current regulations are expanded to further the interests of businesses, opportunities for use of this exciting technology will be somewhat limited. Accordingly, we will aggressively advocate on behalf of our clients who are seeking to implement the use of drones in their businesses. We will be a voice for pro-business amendments to existing regulations governing UAV systems.

We anticipate that some clients will, on occasion, become embroiled in litigation over UAV related matters. Our team of litigation attorneys are poised and ready to defend our client’s interests in any Court, both state and federal. If your business needs a loyal and relentless "wingman” for litigation, you will find one at Foley & Foley, PC.

Our attorneys have the experience necessary to achieve a desired result for clients wishing to explore the wide range of possibilities presented by Unmanned Aerial Systems. We want to put our expertise to work for your business.

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