Your Help is Needed NOW to Protect UAS Industry in Congress

Your Help is Needed NOW to Protect UAS Industry in Congress

Congress is currently in that famous “sausage-making” stage of creating new laws regarding the commercial (and hobby) use of drones. Your help is needed to persuade our lawmakers to make good decisions that will help our industry thrive.

Please consider supporting the express federal preemption ban on local “drone laws” by clicking here:

Please also consider supporting Senator Inhofe’s amendment to protect the model aircraft hobby by clicking here.

Why Your Help Is Needed

While many of us have heard of federal preemption over states and local governments regarding airspace, some in Congress want to allow states and local governments the freedom to pass their own drone laws. Senator Dianne Feinestein (D CA) is an example.

While federal preemption is already in place for airspace, putting in an express preemption provision in the FAA Reauthorization Act could make quick(er) work to fight what has become a “whack-a-mole” of local drone laws popping up all over the country. Without a good case going up to the US Supreme Court fighting these local drone laws (and that takes YEARS and has much uncertainty) many local entities may be stubborn and try to keep their local drone laws on the books with local enforcement actions on the books.

Here is the Opportunity to Help

The US Senate 2016 FAA Reauthorization bill contains a provision called Section that expressly says the following:

“No State or political subdivision of a State may enact or enforce any law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law relating to the design, manufacture, testing, licensing, registration, certification, operation, or maintenance of an unmanned aircraft system, including airspace, altitude, flight paths, equipment or technology requirements, purpose of operations, and pilot, operator, and observer qualifications, training, and certification.”

Senator Feinestein has introduced a bill that “would preempt state and local laws relating to the operation of drones. These laws would be preempted even if FAA does not take action to address the growing problem of reckless drone use. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 26 states have enacted drone laws and 41 states have considered laws in the 2016 legislative session.”

The manned and unmanned airspace industry is fighting back. A group of ten industry groups including DJI, AOPA, and AUVSI have written a letter to all US Senators to “[oppose] Sen. Feinstein’s amendments #3558 and #3650 or any other amendment that would change or strike the federal preemption provision, section 2152, of the FAA Reauthorization Act and put safety at risk.

Contact your US representative and advise them on why these actions to support the UAS industry are needed, the jobs it will create, and the safety arguments against a patchwork of local drone laws across the land.

If you have any questions or would like our help in your efforts to lobby Congress, please contact us through the form below or call Jeffrey Antonelli at 312-201-8310.

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FAA Expands Online UAS Registration to Include Commercial Operations

FAA Expands Online Small Unmanned Aircraft Registration

From the FAA:           Register here.

FAA: Thursday, March 31 – Starting today, owners of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) used for commercial, public and other non-model aircraft operations will be able to use the FAA’s new, streamlined, web-based registration process to register their aircraft. The web-based process will significantly speed up registration for a variety of commercial, public use and other users. Registration for those users is $5, the same low fee that model aircraft owners pay.

“Registration is an important tool to help us educate aircraft owners and safely integrate this exciting new technology into the same airspace as other aircraft operations,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

All owners of small UAS used for purposes other than as model aircraft must currently obtain a 333 exemption, a public certificate of authorization or other FAA authorization to legally operate, in addition to registering their aircraft. Before today, the FAA required all non-hobby unmanned aircraft owners to register their aircraft with the FAA’s legacy aircraft registry in Oklahoma City, OK.

 Those owners who already have registered in the legacy system do not have to re-register in the new system. However, the FAA is encouraging new owners who are registering for the first time to use the new, web-based registration system. Owners who register under the new system can easily access the records for all of the aircraft they have registered by logging into their on-line account. Small UAS owners who have registered under the web-based system who intend to use their aircraft for purposes other than as model aircraft will also need to re-register to provide aircraft specific information.

 The FAA first opened up the web-based registration for model unmanned aircraft owners on Dec. 21, 2015. The agency is expanding that existing website to accommodate owners of aircraft used for purposes other than model aircraft. This registration process includes additional information on the manufacturer, model and serial number, in addition to the owner’s physical and email addresses. Like the model aircraft registration process, a certificate is good for three years, but each certificate covers only one aircraft.

Register here.

FAA Doubles Blanket UAS COAs to 400 Feet

The FAA today announced that it is increasing the allowed altitude for commercial UAS “blanket” COAs from 200 to 400 feet.

It is unclear whether the action will be retroactive to those who previously received blanket COAs for up to 200 feet in altitude for their Section 333 commercial operations. The newest 400 foot COA document can be found here.

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If you would like assistance obtaining a Public Agency COA, standard COA for operations near airports or for altitudes above 400 feet AGL, or a Section 333 exemption for commercial UAS,  contact attorney Jeffrey Antonelli at 312-201-8310 or use the contact form below.

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FAA Reauthorization Delayed Until July

USA Today reports that Congress has decided to delay passing the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Bill until July 2016, due to concerns about building a consensus around a number of long-term issues.

How this may affect the upcoming commercial drone regulations, called Part 107, is unclear. This delay may make applying for a Section 333 petition for exemption worthwhile for some, despite the uncertainty of what may, or may not, be contained in the final Part 107 and the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Bill.

If you would like assistance obtaining a Public Agency COA, standard COA for operations near airports or for altitudes above 200 feet AGL, or a Section 333 exemption for commercial UAS,  contact attorney Jeffrey Antonelli at 312-201-8310 or use the contact form below.

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Jeffrey Antonelli to Speak at sUSB Expo in San Francisco

Jeffrey Antonelli, principal of Antonelli Law, will be speaking at the 2016 sUSB Expo in San Francisco. Also known as The Silicon Valley Drone Show the event will take place at the Golden Gate Club at the Presidio April 27th, 28th, and 29th 2016.

The topic of the presentation will be Drone Law in the United States, and is expected to include the FAA Reauthorization Act, Part 107 (Final Commercial sUAS Regulations), Section 333, COAs, and defending an FAA enforcement action.

Ticket registration for the 3 day event is $250 until April 20th, or $300 at the door. The sUSB Expo was the best conference in 2015 for movers and shakers, and should be a terrific experience for 2016.  We would not miss it.

susbexpo2016

New FAA Requirements on UAS Ops Near Airports

The FAA’s requirements for UAS operations near airports are dynamic  and they have recently been changed. You need a Standard COA. The Blanket COA and LOA arrangement of the past will no longer cut it.

Since the beginning of the FAA’s “Blanket COA” process, commercial drone operators approved through a Section 333 grant of exemption could fly nearly anywhere in the United States with  a number of conditions which were basically as follows:

  • 200 feet AGL maximum
  • Within Visual Line of Site of the PIC
  • Certain distances away from airports or heliports to include:
    • 5 nautical miles (NM) from an airport having an operational control tower; or
    • 3 NM from an airport with a published instrument flight procedure, but not an operational tower; or
    • 2 NM from an airport without a published instrument flight procedure or an operational tower; or
    • 2  NM from a heliport with a published instrument flight procedure

If you wanted to fly closer to the airports as described above, you needed to arrange a Letter of Agreement (LOA) with the airport operator.

Recently, the FAA has changed this and it now requires a new, Standard COA aka “site specific” COA. And, for certain circumstances,  you may also be required to obtain a Letter of Agreemnt (LOA) if the ATC Facility Manager determines  the operations will be recurring in the facilities airspace or movement areas and the operations are complex.

If you would like assistance obtaining a standard COA for operations near airports or for altitudes above 200 feet AGL contact Jeffrey Antonelli at 312-201-8310 or use the contact form below.

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Your Action Needed – Micro UAS Amendment Needs Support

I am writing to ask you to contact your US Senators and House representatives to support the micro UAS” amendment to the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Act, H.R. 4441, offered by Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis.
This amendment removes the manned pilot license requirement and other red tape for commercial UAS operations for drones weighing less than 4.4 pounds (2 kg). I feel strongly that removing the manned pilot license is crucial for the UAS industry. I do not have confidence the upcoming part 107 “Final Rule” from the FAA will be on-time in terms of implementation, meaning when you can actually receive a drone pilot license. While I would like the manned pilot license requirement to be removed for all commercial UAS operations, removing it for drones under 4.4 pounds would be a terrific start. A DJI Phantom 3 for example weighs about 2.8 pounds.
To find your US Senator and Congressperson, use the following links:
HOUSE: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
SENATE: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
THANK YOU!
Jeffrey Antonelli

The Best Resource For Experts In Commercial Drones

sUAS News’ sUAS Guide Inaugural Issue has been released. If you have not heard of sUAS News you should.  They were pioneers in the commercial drone world long before most of us even knew there was such a market.

The Silicon Valley Drone Show aka The sUSB Expo has been held annually since 2012 and is the premier drone conference and expo in the United States. Many of the people in the audience as well as the speakers are at the top of the field and the event should not be missed – April 27, 28, 29th in San Francisco’s Presidio.

sUAS News puts on the premiere commercial drone conference and expo each year in San Francisco
sUAS News puts on the premiere commercial drone conference and expo each year in San Francisco

Note: sUAS News is a client of Antonelli Law, the publisher of this blog. No compensation was paid to Antonelli Law for this blog post. We’ve been a fan of sUAS News long before they became a client!

An Antonelli Law blog on UAS/Drone Law