FAA Interpretation Allows Some UAS in Accredited Educational Institutions

FAA Interpretation Allows Some UAS in Accredited Educational Institutions

Today the FAA released its interpretation on the use of unmanned aircraft for hobby or recreational purposes at accredited educational institutions and community events under Section 336. The full FAA memo can be accessed here.

In a nutshell, operations may be allowed under Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act by both faculty and students when flight training of the UAS is not the primary aim, but rather are secondary to the educational objective of the curriculum. If flight training is the primary aim then the faculty member does not come within Section 336’s hobby or recreational use because they would be regularly operating the UAS . The student’s flight of the UAS does appear to be permissible under Section 336.

The FAA gives the example of aviation design and construction in engineering coursework: the UAS operation by the student can be used “to test the validity of design or construction methods to show mastery of the principles of the course”and is permissible under Section 336. Faculty,  since they are being paid, cannot fly the UAS except to the extent they assisting the students in a “de minimis” fashion.

The memo emphasizes that educational institutions may also operate UAS outside of Section 336 by obtaining permission from the FAA by way of three pathways: (1) public aircraft operation and a COA (2) limited commercial operation as type certificated UAS and a COA (3) pursuant to Section 333 and a COA. The FAA memo states that, for example, student or faculty operation of UAS for research purposes does not qualify as hobby or recreational use under Section 336 and therefore one of the above three pathways to FAA authorization must be used.

If your educational institution has questions regarding this FAA Interpretation on the educational use of unmanned aircraft under Section 336 or wish to pursue FAA approval as a public aircraft operation, type certificated UAS, or Section 333 contact Antonelli Law at 312-201-8310, via email at Jeffrey@Antonelli-Law.com  or use the contact form below.   

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

captcha

Caveat: This article is not legal advice. Your particular factual circumstances and application of the laws and this FAA memo requires legal analysis by a competent attorney.

AUVSI, AOPA Mention Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group

It has been a very busy time for Antonelli Law.

Last week, Jeffrey Antonelli spoke at the sUASB Conference in San Francisco on the state of the FAA Reauthorization Act and our clients’ experience living with the constrictions of Section 333.

This week, both AUVSI and AOPA ran stories on our firm, including one mentioning Antonelli Law’s participation in the DJI Professional User Referral Program (below).

If you are attending AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL trade show and conference in New Orleans, please visit us at Booth 371 to meet the attorneys who elevate our practice. It is our third year exhibiting at AUVSI’s annual conference. We look forward to continuing to grow our practice and clients along with the rest of this amazing UAS industry!

 

AUVSI ANTONELLI BOOTH 371

 

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.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

captcha

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.

FAA logo

 

 

 

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.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

captcha

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.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

captcha

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.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Subject

Your Message

captcha

An Antonelli Law blog on UAS/Drone Law