Category Archives: FAA

Drone Regulations in 2017 – Will Growth of the U.S. Commercial Drone Industry be Collateral Damage of the Trump Surprise?

Part Four in a Series on Federal Preemption – Mark Del Bianco, Special Counsel to Antonelli Law

Prognosticators and pundits in Washington and far outside the Beltway are trying to read the (admittedly very skimpy) tea leaves and figure out what the unanticipated Trump victory means for [fill in the industry, country or policy area of your choice here].  I’ll play the game, but rather than opining on broad, sweeping issues, I’ll focus on the wonky issue of what the election means for the U.S. commercial drone industry.

I’ll start by stating a couple of assumptions that underpin my analysis.  First, unlike most industries, stakeholders in the commercial drone industry want more federal regulations.  The sooner, the better in most stakeholders’ view.  Second, the industry has only limited potential for growth absent federal rules permitting flights at night, flights over uninvolved people, flights beyond the operator’s visual line of sight (BVLOS), and autonomous flights. 

The state of play right now is that the FAA, having promulgated the initial Part 107 rule in August, seems to be picking up steam in its regulatory process. See Its Pathfinder program is developing data on BVLOS and autonomous flight. The agency has been drafting a rule that would allow flights over uninvolved people, and according to reports has sent the draft to OMB for approval.  That OMB review can take 90 days or more, so it could easily stretch into the new Trump Administration.

Trump, like other recent Republican presidents-elect, has called for a moratorium on new federal agency regulations during the first part of his presidency.  According to the campaign website, the moratorium would apply to all new regulations “that are not compelled by Congress or public safety in order to give our American companies the certainty they need to reinvest in our community, get cash off of the sidelines, start hiring again, and expanding businesses.” See  Neither the website nor any of Trump’s speeches provide much guidance about how long the proposed moratorium might last.  Given the uncertainty, it seems very possible that new drone regulations may not be in place until late 2017 or even 2018.  Given the explosive pace of technological development in the industry, this delay could leave the U.S. commercial drone industry at a tremendous competitive disadvantage compared to other countries that have put a comprehensive framework in place.  It is possible that the U.S. commercial drone industry’s growth could actually be collateral damage of the election.

There may be a small silver lining in the regulatory cloud.  Like many in the commercial drone space, I see the patchwork of problematic (and often unconstitutional) state and local laws as a substantial and growing roadblock to the growth of the industry in the U.S.  But now there’s news that Palm Beach, Florida, which had enacted an ordinance with scant care for whether it conflicted with federal law, has acknowledged the need to consult with federal authorities as it rewrites its law to protect its most famous resident, Donald Trump. Perhaps the other localities where Mr. Trump owns homes (such as Los Angeles) will take a similar approach.  Who knows, common sense might break out nationwide.

About Attorney Mark Del Bianco 

Attorney Mark Del Bianco is Special Counsel to Antonelli Law’s DSC_2812Drone/UAS Practice Group. Mark has more than three decades of experience representing clients in federal administrative rulemaking, enforcement proceedings, and court reviews at the DOJ, ITC, FCC, FDA, CPSC, and NHTSA. He has litigation experience ranging from state trial courts to case briefs in the United States Supreme Court, and in recent years has litigated the constitutionality of state laws at the intersection of technology and privacy. He also provides transactional and regulatory assistance to a wide array of clients, including fiber networks, satellite service providers, business owners, application developers and cloud services providers.

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How to Get a Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) FAA Part 107 Waiver

In our first post of 2017, we would like to talk about Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) FAA Part 107 waivers – What are the steps to getting one, and How much does it cost to obtain professional help in applying for one?

As it now stands, the process for obtaining a BLOS waiver from the FAA under Part 107 can hardly be described as transparent or straightforward. We hope the new Trump Administration will make sure this process becomes more business-friendly. The same hope applies to UAS airspace authorization requests, too.

Many companies contact us here at Antonelli Law – domestic and international – seeking advice for obtaining the BLOS waiver. Many of them have very compelling stories and technology to offer. We wish we could provide both a standardized process (and standard legal fee) that is clear and predictable in scope and timeline, but trying to do so with the FAA involved is simply not possible. At least right now.

What we can do is explain the basic steps in the process and a very general ballpark estimate on what we will charge for our assistance. Obviously the scope of work and cost varies as to whether you are looking for what is basically extended visual line of site operations for farmland, or you want to deliver things far from the ground control station  – especially it is compounded with the possibility of flying over people.

However, the general steps are as follows:

Step One: Develop your concept of operations and risk assessment

Step Two: Develop testing data either overseas or at an FAA test site. Alternatively participate in the FAA Pathfinder Program.

Step Three: Draft the actual beyond line of sight (BLOS) waiver request under Part 107, technically parts 107.31, 102.200 and 107.205. 

The fees for helping you through this are approximately (depending on the complexity and risk of your operations) $10,000 to $15,000 or more.

If you wish to fly BLOS involving delivering something that is not owned by the company – like Amazon is famously trying to do – currently there is no process for this available under Part 107 and another avenue must be pursued.

These are just the basics, but we hope this provides some insight whether you are an operator looking to expand your UAS operations or an investor evaluating a company pitching you  getting regulatory approval from the FAA to fly and make money as promised. 

Antonelli Law offers a $350 comprehensive consultation by telephone with you, our FAA consultant, and an attorney to discuss your UAS goals and whether, and how, you may obtain FAA approval.

If you would like to make an appointment for our $350 comprehensive consultation, please call us at 312-201-8310 or you may also use the contact form below.

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FAA Now Allows Class C Part 107 Airspace Authorizations

On October 31st, the FAA began accepting applications from Part 107 commercial drone operators who want to fly in Class C Airspace.

What’s Class C? Think John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA or Midway Airport in Chicago, rather than LAX or O’Hare which are both Class B. There are more than 120 Class C airports in the United States.

How to Obtain a Part 107 Airspace Authorization – Like Class C

In order to obtain a waiver for airspace authorization, applicants will need to fill out the FAA’s online form available here. The form for special airspace authorization requires the name and phone number of the PIC, as well as providing the geographic coordinates of the proposed operations. Applicants may also want to consider creating a map of the proposed geographic area, to be provided upon request to the FAA.

Some Tips For Applying For Class C Airspace Authorizations

Applicants will need to submit a waiver for each unique airport they are looking to operate in. Applicants should also  seriously consider breaking up their submission into multiple parts, to make the submission easier for the FAA to review and approve.

The FAA has reported that they have rejected 71 Part 107 waiver requests and 854 airspace applications. Do it right the first time.

The Timeline For Approvals for Part 107 Class C Airspace Authorizations

The FAA allows itself up to 90 days to review an application, but has a goal of eventually reviewing and issuing approvals within a matter of hours. This is a brand new process for Part 107 operations so we can expect some delays and changes in protocol. Hopefully a fully computerized process to obtain airspace authorizations for Part 107 operations will be implemented soon for immediate approvals.

Part 107 Waivers vs Airspace Authorizations

At the time this post was published (November 2nd), the FAA has posted 131 approved Part 107 Waivers to their website, the vast majority of which have been for nighttime applications. The FAA has not yet posted applications that have been approved for special airspace authorizations.

Need Help Applying for Part 107 Airspace Authorizations and Waivers?

The Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group has filed several waivers for its clients. To speak with an attorney to discuss filing a waiver and obtain a quote, call 312-201-8310 or email us at

Note: No part of this post or consists of legal advice. In addition, the process, conditions, and timelines of obtaining approval from the FAA change often and therefore the reader is encouraged to review the FAA source materials on the FAA website.

Four Antonelli Law Clients Received Nighttime Part 107 Waivers Today!

Four Antonelli Law Clients Received Nighttime Part 107 Waivers Today!

Today, the first day that federal commercial drone regulations referred to as Part 107 became effective, four of Antonelli Law’s UAS clients received permission to fly during nighttime in Class G airspace.

Our clients who received nighttime waivers under Part 107:

1) John L. Lowery & Associates – Petrochemical inspections
2) Cloud Deck Media – Promotional Videos, Inspections
3) eCamSecure – Security
4) Confidential

All four clients had previously submitted Section 333 petitions to fly pursuant to the the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act and requested permission to fly during nighttime.

Under Part 107, a number of drone (UAS) operations are prohibited unless a 107 Waiver is obtained. They are found in Section 107.205:

107.25 – Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.

107.29 – Daylight operation.

107.31 – Visual line of sight aircraft operation. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.

107.33 – Visual observer.

107.35 – Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems.107.37(a) – Yielding the right of way.

107.39 – Operation over people.

107.41 – Operation in certain airspace.

107.51 – Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.

If your company wishes to obtain a Part 107 waiver in one or more of the categories, contact Antonelli Law at 312-201-8310 or email Jeffrey Antonelli at 

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Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group
Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group

Join Me at EAA Oshkosh – Discuss FAA Part 107 & Drones (UAS)

I am very pleased to be speaking at this year’s Oshkosh Airventure 2016 on Tuesday July 26th on FAA Drone Policy Part 107 – the new commercial drone regulations for Part 61 and non Part 61 pilots. While the schedule is changing I am expected to participate in several other related panels as well.

Please join our discussion and bring your questions and opinions on sharing the airspace with drones – unmanned aircraft systems – under the new Part 107!

Tuesday July 26th- FAA Drone Policy Part 107
10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

Expected topics will include:

  • How to Get your Remote Pilot Airman Certificate
  • Operating Rules
  • Part 107 Certificates of Waiver – Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS), Nighttime, Flights Over People

Last year was my first visit to Oshkosh and I was absolutely blown away! Approaching the airfield I witnessed the epic Tora! Tora! Tora! airshow. Then, I spent several hours watching my favorite war-bird since childhood, the P51 Mustang, and ended up meeting a terrifically nice gentleman I only later learned is the famous Jack Roush.

I am very excited to see even more aircraft and people at this year’s show.

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Jeffrey Antonelli, head of the Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group

Jeffrey Antonelli - Head of Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group
Jeffrey Antonelli – Head of Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group

How to Become a Part 107 Pilot – Practical Advice

The FAA is getting better dealing with commercial drones.

The new Part 107 commercial regulations for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), also known as drones, creates a new pilot certificate that does away with the traditional flight school requirement. Part 107 becomes effective on August 29, 2016.

You no longer need to go up in an airplane and learn to fly. Instead, a written knowledge test and a few other details are all that is needed. And if you are already a traditional pilot (“Part 61 airman”) you can simply go through the new FAA online course. Click here for the FAA sample exam for the Unmanned Aircraft General (UAG) knowledge test.

The following comes directly from the FAA and gives you step by step guidance for earning your FAA remote pilot certificate. If you need drone law assistance such as requesting permission to fly at night, or fly beyond line of sight, or business related issues, call Antonelli Law at 312-201-8310 or use the contact form at the bottom of this blog post.

First-Time Pilots

To become a pilot you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center

Pilot certificate Requirements

  • Must be easily accessible by the remote pilot during all UAS operations
  • Valid for 2 years – certificate holders must pass a recurrent knowledge test every two years

Application Process

    1. Schedule an appointment with a Knowledge Testing Center (KTC), which administer initial and recurrent FAA knowledge exams
      1. View the list of Knowledge Testing Centers (PDF) to find one near you.
      2. Applicants must bring government-issued photo ID to their test
    2. Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test – initial knowledge test areas include:
      1. Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
      2. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
      3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
      4. Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
      5. Emergency procedures
      6. Crew resource management
      7. Radio communication procedures
      8. Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
      9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
      10. Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
      11. Airport operations
      12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
    3. Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
      1. Register using the FAA IACRA system
      2. Login with username and password
      3. Click on “Start New Application” and 1) Application Type “Pilot”, 2) Certifications “Remote Pilot”, 3) Other Path Information, 4) Start Application
      4. Follow application prompts
      5. When prompted, enter the 17-digit Knowledge Test Exam ID (NOTE: it may take up to 48 hours from the test date for the knowledge test to appear in IACRA)
      6. Sign the application electronically and submit to the Registry for processing.
    4. A confirmation email will be sent when an applicant has completed the TSA security background check. This email will provide instructions for printing a copy of the temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA.
    5. A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete.

* Applicants who do not wish to complete FAA Form 8710-13 online may choose the paper process. Please note that the processing time will be longer if a paper application is used since it requires in-person approval and signature by a designated pilot examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR), or an FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI), and must then be mailed to a Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) for final review and signature. Additionally, a temporary remote pilot certificate will not be provided to the applicant.

Instructions for completing the paper application process may be found in Chapter 6, Section 4 of the Part 107 Advisory Circular.

Existing Pilots – What to Expect


  • Must hold a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61
  • Must have completed a flight review within the previous 24 months

Remote Pilot Certificate Requirements

  • Must be easily accessible by the remote pilot during all UAS operations
  • Valid for 2 years – certificate holders must pass either a recurrent online training course OR recurrent knowledge test every two years

Application Process:

  1. Complete the online training course “Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ALC-451″ available on the FAA FAASTeam website – initial training course areas include:
    1. Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
    2. Effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
    3. Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
    4. Emergency procedures
    5. Crew resource management
    6. Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
    7. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
  2. Complete FAA Form 8710-13 (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for a remote pilot certificate)
    1. Online or by paper (see instructions in previous section)
  3. Validate applicant identity
    1. Contact a FSDO, an FAA-designated pilot examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR), or an FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI) to make an appointment.
    2. Present the completed FAA Form 8710-13 along with the online course completion certificate or knowledge test report (as applicable) and proof of a current flight review.
    3. The completed FAA Form 8710-13 application will be signed by the applicant after the FSDO, DPE, ACR, or CFI examines the applicant’s photo identification and verifies the applicant’s identity.
      1. The identification presented must include a photograph of the applicant, the applicant’s signature, and the applicant’s actual residential address (if different from the mailing address). This information may be presented in more than one form of identification.
      2. Acceptable methods of identification include, but are not limited to U.S. drivers’ licenses, government identification cards, passports, and military identification cards (see AC 61-65 Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors)
    4. The FAA representative will then sign the application.
  4. An appropriate FSDO representative, a DPE, or an ACR will issue the applicant a temporary airman certificate (a CFI is not authorized to issue a temporary certificate; they can process applications for applicants who do not want a temporary certificate).
  5. A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete.

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Remote Pilot Certification Documents

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FAA Punts on the Preemption Issue in Part 107

Part Two in a Series on Federal Preemption – Mark Del Bianco, Special Counsel to Antonelli Law

FAA Punts on the Preemption Issue in Part 107

The FAA’s recent announcement of Part 107, the final rule for commercial small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS or drones), has justifiably received a lot of publicity and general praise.  There has been little comment on what the rule does, or rather does not do, on the issue of federal preemption of state and local drone regulations.

Federal preemption is what’s referred to in political circles as a “third rail” issue. Like the electrified third rail on a subway system, you don’t touch it unless you absolutely have to, and it can shock and hurt whatever or whoever touches it.  For that reason, it was not surprising that the FAA’s 2015 SUAS NPRM did not mention preemption.  Nonetheless, during the rulemaking proceeding the FAA received a number of comments on federal preemption. Most contended that without a preemption provision, state and local governments would continue to attempt to regulate small UAS operations, resulting in potentially conflicting rules and hampering the industry’s development. They argued that conflicting rules lead to confusion and litigation costs, burden commercial and hobbyist UAS users, and delay the adoption of UAS technology. Under the federal Administrative Procedure Act, the FAA had a duty to review the preemption comments and make at least some response showing that it had considered the arguments made by commenters.

What did the FAA do? It punted, concluding “that specific regulatory text addressing preemption is not required in the final rule.”  It went on to state that

Preemption issues involving small UAS necessitate a case-specific analysis that is not appropriate in a rule of general applicability. Additionally, certain legal aspects concerning small UAS use may be best addressed at the State or local level. For example, State law and other legal protections for individual privacy may provide recourse for a person whose privacy may be affected through another person’s use of a UAS. On December 17, 2015, the FAA . . . issued a Fact Sheet on State and Local Regulation of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The Fact Sheet is intended to serve as a guide for State and local governments as they respond to the increased use of UAS in the national airspace. It summarizes well-established legal principles as to the Federal responsibility for regulating the operation or flight of aircraft, which includes, as a matter of law, UAS. . . . The Fact Sheet provides examples of State and local laws affecting UAS for which consultation with the FAA is recommended and those that are likely to fall within State and local government authority. For example, consultation with FAA is recommended when State or local governments enact operational UAS restrictions on flight altitude, flight paths; operational bans; or any regulation of the navigable airspace. The Fact Sheet also notes that laws traditionally related to State and local police power—including land use, zoning, privacy, trespass, and law enforcement operations—generally are not subject to Federal regulation. . . .

The upshot of the FAA’s punt is that – unless Congress steps in – the next few years will see a continued proliferation of state and local anti-drone laws.  Many of these laws will conflict with federal law (including Part 107) and some will infringe Constitutional protections, but there will be few court challenges initially. Why is that? Because at first those most affected by restrictive local laws will be hobbyists and small businesses, who generally don’t have the financial resources to fund litigation. Legal challenges will eventually be brought as larger drones come into use and the operations of Fortune 1000 companies – think utilities, engineering firms and large services companies – are affected. They will have the incentives and the necessary deep pockets to fund litigation. But challenging the numerous state and local laws in effect by that time will be the equivalent of legal whack-a-mole.

It may be time for Congress to clarify the scope of federal preemption in the drone space.  There have been attempts to do that in various versions of the FAA reauthorization act bills now pending in the House and Senate.  Stay tuned for updates on the progress of that battle.

About Attorney Mark Del Bianco 

Attorney Mark Del Bianco is Special Counsel to Antonelli Law’s DSC_2812Drone/UAS Practice Group. Mark has more than three decades of experience representing clients in federal administrative rulemaking, enforcement proceedings, and court reviews at the DOJ, ITC, FCC, FDA, CPSC, and NHTSA. He has litigation experience ranging from state trial courts to case briefs in the United States Supreme Court, and in recent years has litigated the constitutionality of state laws at the intersection of technology and privacy. He also provides transactional and regulatory assistance to a wide array of clients, including fiber networks, satellite service providers, business owners, application developers and cloud services providers.

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Part 107 is Here -Nightime, Over People, & BLOS Certificate of Waiver

Part 107 is finally here – the US government’s small drone regulations issued by the FAA.

Many are cheering, and they have a lot to cheer about:

  • No more traditional pilot’s license
  • Less recordkeeping
  • No need to apply and wait for a Section 333 exemption.

For high value, good paying UAS work there are some disappointments  – but there’s a silver lining. What Part 107 does not allow is, among other restrictions, are:

  • Flying beyond line of slight (BVLOS)
  • Nighttime operations
  • Flying over people

The silver lining? Each of the above prohibitions can be waived under a Part 107 Waiver upon application to the FAA. With presentation of a safety case made proportional to the risk presented by the request, Section 107.200 allows the FAA to grant Certificates of Waiver for those restrictions enumerated under Section 107.205 which include beyond line of sight, nighttime operations, and flying over people.

Antonelli Law helps obtain Part 107 Waivers and Airspace Authorizations for Class B, C, D, E – Call us at 312 201 8310 nationwide.

Scroll down for important FAA Part 107 resources including how to obtain the required Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. It is required both for traditional part 61 airmen as well as those who have never gone to flight school.

Part 107 is new, and complex operators may need some help.

Our years of experience as pioneers in drone law and the help of our UAS and aviation consultant Douglas Marshall (one of the very top in the country) ensures our ability to help companies get their best shot at presenting a winning safety case to the FAA for a Certificate of Waiver under Section 107.200.

Call Antonelli Law at 312-201-8310 or fill out our simple contact page below. Principal Jeffrey Antonelli can be reached via email at

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Antonelli Law is the first law firm to be selected by DJI for its Professional User Referral Program.

Here are important documents related to the new Part 107 for small drones:

Note: The FAA has confirmed to Antonelli Law that the Knowledge Testing Centers will be ready for applicants to take the required remote pilot knowledge test on the date part 107 becomes effective in August 2016.

Part 107 Leak – Summary of FAA Commercial UAS Rule – To Be Confirmed

Several sources have published what may be the official FAA Summary of Part 107, the long-awaited commercial UAS regulations. These include Forbes, sUASNews, and Peter Sachs.

Like all purported leaks, take it with a grain of salt until we receive confirmation from the FAA. Most folks in the industry believe we will get the official Part 107 rule from FAA tomorrow June 21 2016.

The purported summary indicates that under part 107:

  • Drone pilot license with written, in-person aeronautical test.
  • Current part 61 airmen may take online test
  • 400 feet AGL limit
  • Visual Line of Sight
  • Daytime only
  • No Visual Observer required
  • Class G operations – No ATC notifications required
  • Class B, C, D, E operations allowed with ATC approvals
  • Allows operations from moving watercraft

Once the official part 107 Rule is released by the FAA, Antonelli Law will analyze it and advise:

  • What operations are permitted under Part 107
  • What operations will still need an exemption under Section 333

Remember that all reports and analyses are merely speculation.

Until then, here are the sources:


sUAS News

Peter Sachs‘s Drone Law Journal

Link to the purported Part 107 Summary by FAA:



How to Evaluate a Drone Law Attorney in 5 Easy Steps *

How to Evaluate a Drone Law Attorney in 5 Easy Steps*

By Jeffrey Antonelli, Antonelli Law

I was recently given some free advice from someone who works with a legacy international company that is a household word. He is also a serial entrepreneur and he gave me some unsolicited, helpful advice.

He told me I should increase my Google ranking by having articles published (outside of this blog) with certain appropriate keywords – like drone lawyer, drone law, UAS – and sprinkle them throughout several times in the content so that search bots “feel” its right. Oh, and to have those articles link back to our law firm website at 

I know he is right. That will probably work. During the Great Recession I accepted a dinner-with-a-catch function sponsored by American Family Insurance. That very nice dinner included some helpful hints to writing blog content. One of those pieces of advice was to include a number in the headline like 3 Ways to Catch Your Spouse Cheating, The Top Ten Hollywood Actors Who Have Gotten Fat, or How to Evaluate a Drone Law Attorney in 5 Easy Steps.

One of the things that motivates me personally, a core value if you will, is my authenticity. I have the freedom in my law practice to actually implement authenticity in my practice since it is my own firm. I require it and related behaviors including honesty in everyone I hire and associate with. It is even in the legal contract all my employees must sign to be a part of my firm.

Now that drone law is not new as it was in January 2014 when I launched our drone law practice (March 2014 PR here) there seems to be a lot more competition from other lawyers –  including some I have my doubts about. That is to be expected with something that is often in the news and thought of as a “hot” area like drones .  Some I don’t mind and they should be fine – I see some lawyers who are manned aviation pilots, and that makes sense for drones. But I see others who are clearly in it to make a buck only (my opinion) including copying the motivation that I and a certain much more famous drone lawyer who is no longer in private practice have had – flying RC planes – by using RC planes as props.

I think my passion for flying drones and rc planes and the really intriguing technology that brought me to drone law in 2013 including flight stabilization and fpv will continue to push me to keep learning and be on the cutting edge. I remember watching someone at my flying field with a multirotor perhaps in 2012. How was he controlling each of the motors at one time? That made me eventually learn about flight controllers and their inception at least for the hobby folks, using components from their game consoles and cell phones.

One of my former bosses, who had been a capital partner at a very large law firm, once told me that for lawyers to do a great job it often means putting in a real effort to dig deeply. This might mean checking more legal cases, taking another deposition, and cross-checking testimony from a number of different people. In drone law, I think it means continuing to delve deep into the regulations (proposed and final); maintaining and growing relationships with subject matter experts far and wide in aviation, government, law, and technology; and attending the substantive meetings at conferences where the real experts of technology are talking, not just the fun demonstrations of robots, selfies, and media opportunities.

But it also means going back to what got me started in this field – flying fixed wing rc airplanes. I will never do the incredible things my friend Kevin does here, but it is something I enjoy and it brings together friendship, sunny skies, and flying.

One of the things that drone law will be called upon to answer are the concerns about privacy. I don’t think many law firms throwing their hat into the “drone law” ring will have much to say about it. One thing that I think makes my drone law firm great is my co-counsel Mark Del Bianco. Mark holds the Certified Information Privacy Professional/US designation from the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Mark has been involved with the internet, cloud, telecommunications law and privacy for a long time.

Now that the FAA Reauthorization Act may be requiring  drone manufacturers to obtain software certification and other regulatory approvals, the industry is going to need serious guidance from seasoned, respected professionals. I am pleased to have Douglas Marshall with us. Doug is one of the very top UAS and aviation consultants in the country. He is currently chair of the ASTM F38.02.01 Task Group on Standards for Operations Over People, and serves as a United States delegate to ISO TC 20/SC 16, UAS Subcommittee. We are lucky to have him in our corner.

I think larger fixed-wing UAS is going to be a major area of development, and folks with just general aviation experience aren’t going to cut it.  Federal Express is expressing desire for unmanned cargo jets, and agriculture and energy infrastructure needs high endurance aircraft to survey hundreds – and possibly thousands – of miles of pipeline and towers. That means larger fixed wing, probably in the hundreds to thousands of pounds.  The experience of professional pilots like our Kate Fletcher are going to be the ones in the room that get paid attention to. In addition to being an attorney, Kate has well beyond 10,000 flight hours as a pilot for the world’s largest airline flying the 767, 757, and 737.

Our creative clients like iCam Copters and Richter Studios are tops in their field. It helps me embrace the creative side of myself. Unlike my amateur beginning efforts such as here here here and here, our clients are at the top of their game. Creative professionals need to protect their work with intellectual property including copyright and trademarks, and use appropriate forms for protection like NDAs, Non-Competes, and licensing agreements. Attorney Amelia Niemi is not only learning from me in drone law and assisting with Section 333 petitions, special COAs, and drone related business issues, but she significantly helps the firm when it comes to our IP work. She studied IP at DePaul College of Law’s Center for Intellectual Property which has always been highly ranked nationally. I could have used her help when I was responsible for all the legal work for my first client, an IT company that supported data centers across the US for large clients including Walgreens, Acxiom, and Sallie Mae. I had to learn about NDAs, SHARK drives, storage silos, and a lot of other technology on my own then. I am grateful to offer my clients a great deal more resources today than in 2007.

Like much in business, the drone space is highly competitive with manufacturers releasing new models and new features constantly. New players appear and large players disappear or reinvent themselves.

Sometimes pushing the boundary means finding yourself in trouble with governmental entities. Or having to sue a competitor because they broke the law in order to unfairly compete with you.  I am admitted to the federal trial bar of the Northern District of Illinois (and numerous other federal courts) and litigation was most of my practice until recently. When it comes to fighting in court, I rely on the assistance of my experienced federal litigation associate Melissa Brabender in addition to other resources including our local counsel. In business most people try to stay out of court and one of our jobs as lawyers is to help them do just that. But when it is inevitable, our experience shows we know how to fight. Other lawyers may never have conducted a single trial.  We are looking for great cases challenging local drone laws and other issues as they arise. Our team has deep experience and many years in law and aviation. Due diligence of your lawyer should be a part of your business plan just as checking out potential business partners should be.

Part 107 will be coming out soon. Will it have a new airman certification, a drone pilot license? A written test? Implementation soon or in 6 months? We will find out. When it is published, we will then know what drone law will become in its newest iteration. That is, until the FAA Reauthorization comes out. What will remain the same is my commitment to providing value, honesty, and professional competence to our clients. I could have done a lot of things in business or other fields, but being a lawyer I want to remain being a trusted confidant, zealous advocate, and terrific employer. I also enjoy putting clients together when the synergy is right.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at or call our client concierge Olivia Fowler at 312-201-8310.

*It looks like I went over 5 steps in How to Evaluate a Drone Law Attorney in 5 Easy Steps. Hopefully I exceeded your expectations in more ways than just the title.

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