Category Archives: N Number

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.

Beginner’s Guide to Legal Drone Operations

We have been working hard daily since launching our drone law practice group in January 2014 (its our Two Year Anniversary!) and it is easy to forget how hard it is to figure out the basics when just getting started.

Here is the beginner’s guide to getting legal in the drone world. it is just general information and not legal advice, but we think it is a good start to figuring out where to go when you are at the starting line.

Legally Flying an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle in the United States

(Beginner’s Guide)

  1. What drone(s) will you be operating?
  • Rotorcraft offer much versatility and can carry heavy payloads.
  • Fixed wing aircraft can be used for surveying projects over large areas of land.
  1. Which FAA pathway applies to you?
Section 333 Public Certificate of Authorization
·       Available to individuals, private organizations, and some government entities

·       Anticipated 120 day turnaround time from FAA

·       Applicants can fly nationwide, 5 miles from an airport

·       Person operating the drone must have FAA pilot license (“PIC”)

·       Available to public agencies conducting governmental functions

·       Anticipated 60 day turnaround from FAA

·       PIC may not need a pilot’s license

  1. Register your drone(s) with the FAA.

Commercially operated drones must have an N-Number (tail number). This is NOT (yet) the online web version for hobbyists that has been in the news. That would be easy.

  1. Once you’re approved under Section 333 by the FAA, think about applying for non-standard COAs or amendments.
    • Will you be operating drones that you haven’t been approved on?
    • Will you need to operate higher than 200 feet above ground level, or within 5 miles of an airport?
    • Will you need to operate at night?
  1. Insure your drones and your operation.
  • Look at commercial, UAV-specific insurance. Discuss what you are looking to do with your broker.
  • Consider looking into both liability and hull
  • You could lose your commercial insurance by failing to follow the terms of your 333 approval!
  1. Get it in writing!

Contracts protect you, your clients, and your employees. Consider having a standard service contract prepared in advance of being contacted for jobs. Entering into discussions with a prospective partner? Think about asking him or her to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect your company information.

  1. Protect your intellectual property.
  • Copyrights protect original works of authorship, such as photographs and videos.
  • Trademarks protect the identity of your brand.

Further information and knowledgeable, passionate attorneys can be found by calling us at 312-201-8310 or filling out the form below.

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The Value of Antonelli Law – Section 333 and Beyond

The Value of Antonelli Law – 333s and Beyond

Yesterday, Antonelli Law announced our new 2016 pricing for Section 333 petitions – just $1,500 for most Section 333 petitions.  The response has overall been very positive.

A few folks questioned us as to the value of having an attorney do it at all. This inspired us to spell out the following reasons for having not just any attorney, but the attorneys at Antonelli Law help you with your Section 333 petition.  In other words, we decided to lay out the “value add” for hiring a lawyer at Antonelli Law.

1. Save Time. Many people take longer to put together the 333 on their own because they don’t have the 9-5 time slot available to work on the petition – they are busy with their own jobs and starting a company. Putting 333s together is our job.

2. Accuracy. Our 333s are accurate – it’s shocking the number of petitions with sloppy copy and paste jobs, incorrect flight times, etc. Ours are right the first time. A lot of folks hire Antonelli Law because the delays incurred with FAA requests for additional information means more days without dollars going into their pocket.

iCam Copters
iCam Copters’ Mike Conrady and their FAA approved custom UAV , carries the Red and other high-grade professional cameras

3. We like advertising our clients’ successes. For our clients we often make blog announcements, do press releases about, and at prominent drone trade shows show our clients’ videos, pass out their pamphlets, and include their videos and pamphlets in the  firm media kit given to the press. We have even hosted a number of clients at our booths at the trade shows to help them drum up business for themselves – at no cost to them.  We think that’s a great deal of value.

San Jose Booth Interest
Antonelli Law attorneys (l to r) Benjamin Fink, Amelia Niemi (thumb’s up!), and Mark Del Bianco at our crowded booth at San Jose. Jeffrey Antonelli is taking the photo.

4. We love what we do and others can tell.






5. Our relationships with many in the industry helps us keep current and we learn of opportunities for our clients as well as ourselves.

Rich Hanson of AMA & our Aviation Consultant Doug Marshall San Jose conference





Commercial UAV Booth
Antonelli Law attorneys Amelia Niemi and Melissa Brabender

6. N-Number registration is included. For commercial UAS the FAA system is still paper-based and is frustrating to navigate for many.

7. Advocating on behalf of our clients – our clients who started with us for a Section 333 petition now have someone to call who’s following up with the FAA, monitoring the docket every day for updates, and – if something were to go wrong – has existing relationships with many folks at the FAA to follow up with them.


While it is true many people have been able to successfully submit 333 petitions on their own, we have also seen that many are bad copy and paste jobs that do not match their actual operations. This opens the operator up to civil and governmental liability. If you have the time and ability to do it correctly yourself, go ahead and do it.

If you would like a relationship with seasoned attorneys who love commercial drone technology and have established legal practices beyond Section 333 to help you get and keep your business in the air, call Antonelli Law for a free initial consultation at 312-201-8310 or use the contact form below. In addition to Section 333 petitions and special COAs we provide solid help with technology privacy issues, contracts, NDAs, trademark, copyright, and litigation services.

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Cool and Creepy – The Competing Drivers for the Development of Drone Law

Cool and Creepy – The Competing Drivers for the Development of Drone Law  Mark Del Bianco

Two weeks ago I was the designated lawyer on a “Putting Wings on the Internet of Things” panel on UAS at MobilityLIVE in Atlanta. My assigned task was to predict how the laws and regulations governing drones would develop in the next 2-3 years. The morning of the talk, I had a set of predictions but no connecting theme.

The paneI that preceded ours was on location-based marketing (think in-store beacons pinging your smartphone). One of the panelists mentioned that for consumers there was a fine line in LBM between cool and creepy. A light bulb went on for me. Cool and creepy are the yin and yang of commercial drones. The development of drone law over the next decade will be driven by public/legislative perceptions of the cool/creepy factor, not by the technological developments in the industry.

It turns out my predictions for the panel talk fit the cool/creepy dichotomy well. Unfortunately, creepy is likely to be the winner in the short term. I’m using creepy not just in the “ugh” factor sense (think peeping toms), but as shorthand for the various types of fear induced in many people by the idea of flying cameras everywhere. “Cool” refers to all the potentially beneficial uses of drones – precision ag, utility inspections, deliveries, avalanche prevention – that can be unleashed by a well-designed regulatory framework.

My first prediction was that the FAA’s half-baked drone registration idea will be implemented but pointless. Referring to it as a plan dignifies it too much. Anyone who’s been involved with drafting federal policies and regulations knows that the FAA’s goal of implementing something, anything, by Christmas goal is a recipe for failure. There are so many obvious questions (leaving aside the jurisdictional issues), such as who will perform the registration function, will it be mandatory, will it apply to all drones, and will it apply retroactively? In the end, the FAA will at best have only a part of the universe of hobbyist drones registered, and this year’s registration plan may have to be scrapped and reworked. But when questioned by a Congressional committee, the agency will have the defense that at least it tried to do something.

The second prediction was that the next few years will see a rapid proliferation of state and local drone laws. The majority, but not all, will be anti-drone laws. Such laws will continue to be proposed (but not always enacted) by legislators driven largely by privacy fears, not by the potential danger of injuries from drone accidents.   Many of these laws will infringe Constitutional protections, but there will be few court challenges initially. Why is that? It’s because in the first few years, 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 may be a piecemeal process akin to legal whack-a-mole.

Where does “cool” come in? Only at the federal level. Most of the potential “cool” use cases for drones – including the delivery operations that have garnered so many headlines – require specific federal authorization. Unfortunately, Congress and the FAA move much more slowly than state and local governments. That’s why my third prediction was that there will be neither significant changes in federal law nor amended regulations for smaller UAS (under 55 lbs.) in the next 2-3 years (and perhaps longer). (It is a given that the pending small UAS regulations will be finalized during that time, but I don’t count that as a change.)

I know this prediction is contrary to the hopes and expectations of many in the industry. But I think it’s realistic. Here’s why. The starting point for my analysis is that Congress is aware that the technology is changing too fast for it to enact a drone-specific law at this point, and in any event it would rather leave the task of drone-specific regulation to the FAA. Congressional action will only occur in the near term if (1) there is a drone accident with significant loss of life, (2) the FAA drags its feet and fails to finalize the small UAS regulations until 2017 or 2018, or (3) there is a widespread perception that the U.S. is losing its competitive advantage (and more importantly, manufacturing and services jobs), to other countries with more industry-friendly UAS regulations.

So any changes in the next 2-3 years will have to come from the FAA, which is notoriously slow to embrace new aviation technology. To begin with, the FAA will be hard-pressed to get the proposed small UAS regulations finalized by the end of 2016, four years after Congress passed the statute requiring the FAA to issue regulations. Once they are finalized, the FAA needs to draft both regulations for larger UAS and amended regulations that will enable small UAS to be used for many more useful commercial operations. That means regulations on autonomous operation and beyond visual line of sight flight (BVLOS). Since the necessary testing of BVLOS and autonomous systems is just starting now, I don’t see how the FAA can get a proposal out on either issue until 2017 at the earliest, and it will probably be later than that. Does the FAA have the incentive or the legal bandwidth to do both at the same time? That’s a good question.

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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Drone Democracy Improves With N Number Registration, Lower Price

Antonelli Law is proud to announce its Drone Democracy program now includes one FAA N number registration and a lower Section 333 legal fee of $1,500 for simple uses like residential real estate,  home and roof inspections, and nature photography with certain drones already approved by the FAA like the DJI Phantom 3.

In June Antonelli Law launched  its Drone Democracy Section 333 service as an experiment, to serve people wanting to use drones for simple uses and at a lower legal cost than our traditional Section 333 petition services for GIS, cinematography, oil & gas, mining, engineering, forensics, and other sophisticated uses.

Please note the Pilot License Requirement:

The company or individual running the operation that holds the Section 333 Grant of Exemption does not need to be a licensed pilot, but the person actually flying the drone/UAV must be. The licensed pilot may be a company employee or an independent contractor, as long as the licensed pilot has the UAV competency and other qualifications articulated in the holder’s Section 33 Grant of Exemption.

The FAA currently allows a sport or recreational pilot license (officially called an airman certificate) to operate drones/UAVs under a Section 333 Grant of Exemption. A driver’s license may substitute for a current medical certificate.

Please click here for Drone Democracy.

For GIS, cinematography, oil & gas, mining, engineering, forensics, and other sophisticated uses:

If your company would like assistance filing its own Section 333 petition to fly UAS commercially, contact firm principal Jeffrey Antonelli at 312-201-8310 or fill out the contact form below and we will contact you.

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Jeffrey Antonelli

Note:  None of the information in this website is legal advice.
Please consult an attorney if you have legal questions. This website is attorney advertising.

Press Release – Chicago Law Firm Secures Federal Approvals for Commercial Drone Use Under Firm’s Section 333 Filing Service

Press Release 8-4-2015

Chicago Law Firm Secures Federal Approvals for Commercial Drone Use Under Firm’s Section 333 Filing Service

Growing number of commercial players in the emerging drone industry seek Antonelli Law’s drone law services to help secure clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct drone flights

The attorneys of Antonelli Law, a leading Chicago-based drone law firm that specializes in federal commercial drone law, have secured a total of 11 Section 333 Grant of Exemptions, which allow operators of unmanned aircraft vehicles to conduct aerial surveillance for data collection and for a variety of other commercially-driven purposes. The leading drone lawyers at Antonelli law offer a full spectrum of commercial drone law services that have helped clients in the real estate, engineering, and cinematography fields clear the FAA’S legal hurdles to be able to start flying drones in just a few months.

During July 2015 alone, the law firm’s team of legal and aviation experts have successfully secured four Section 333 approvals. Camera and video-equipped drones are increasingly being used by companies large and small to conduct aerial surveillance. And while thousands of U.S. commercial users want to seize on the potential of drones to leverage their businesses, only about 820 total petitions have been approved by the FAA as of July 2015.

The FAA is expected to finalize its laws for commercial drone operators within the next year, but until then, laws dictating commercial drone use will continue to evolve. Obtaining FAA approval for certain types of drone use has become easier in 2015. Recent changes that took effect earlier this year have allowed Antonelli Law’s Drone/UAS Practice Group to secure Section 333 approvals faster than ever—in as few as 90 days. Previously, every petition filed for commercial drone use had to be reviewed by the FAA on a case-by-case basis with full regulatory analysis and publication in the Federal Register.

Kansas City, Missouri-based engineering firm, Burns & McDonnell Engineering Company Inc., is one of Antonelli Law’s latest clients to receive FAA approval. The company—which provides engineering, architecture, construction, environmental and consulting solutions—received clearance on July 14 to operate a variety of small drones, including the DJI Inspire 1, Draganflyer X4-ES, and SenseFly eBee. Burns & McDonnell is one of several clients of Antonelli Law to obtain FAA approval within 90 days.

“The opportunity for Burns & McDonnell to start deploying drones for 3D aerial utility corridor mapping and infrastructure inspections will not only quicken our ability to deliver quality-driven results to our clients, but drones will undoubtedly increase the safety, productivity, and remote sensing options of our existing aerial data gathering operations,” said Steven Santovasi, department manager, geospatial services for Burns & McDonnell. “Federal drone law is not easy to navigate, however. Securing FAA approval to fly required us to engage the services of the drone law experts at Antonelli Law.”

While drones are showing their positive value in fields such as agriculture, architecture, construction, and real estate; smaller business owners interested in launching commercial drone operations often discover the pursuit to be anything but a low-cost, small-investment decision.

This summer, Antonelli’s Drone/UAS Practice Group launched “Drone Democracy,”—a lower-fee Section 333 service intended to help potential operators of commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) obtain expedited legal clearance from the FAA—as a way to help more commercial users be able to fly drones. Created as a division of Antonelli Law’s Drone/UAS Practice Group, “Drone Democracy” exclusively serves commercial UAS users seeking FAA approval to operate drones for small-scale uses like residential real estate and nature photography.

The firm also now assists clients with obtaining the FAA-required N Number registration, a required step in the process to be able to fly a drone also referred to as the “tail number,” which identifies each drone by a serial number. Obtaining an N Number for drones obtained from outside the U.S. can be particularly difficult, but for a fee of $250 Antonelli Law will handle the lengthy, bureaucratic process of obtaining N Number registration for commercial drone users.

As an avid drone-user himself, Antonelli’s passion for the law intersects with his interest in flying unmanned aerial vehicles for fun. On his Drone Laws Blog, Antonelli regularly highlights updates in the FAA’s changing regulations for drone users and keeps followers updated with the latest Section 333 exemptions his firm has secured.

“We’re still on the brink of unearthing the many ways drones can aid in so many facets of society—from aiding in search and rescue missions to speeding-up survey work—we haven’t even begun to tap into the full benefits of drones,” Antonelli said.

For a full list of clients that have successfully secured Section 333 approval with the help of Antonelli Law, visit

About Antonelli Law

Located in Chicago, Antonelli Law focuses on drone/UAS law, intellectual property, commercial law, and educational fraud.

Antonelli’s Drone/UAS Practice Groupis leveraged by the legal and aviation expertise of attorney Kate Fletcher, an experienced commercial pilot with one of the world’s largest airlines, and Mark Del Bianco, a Washington D.C. attorney with substantial experience in federal administrative agency rulemakings, enforcement proceedings, and appeals. Antonelli, Fletcher, and Del Bianco together create a unique legal practice to serve clients in the emerging legal landscape of drone law.

Antonelli Law is committed to drawing upon the skilled resources of both technical and legal talent for drone/UAS clients. For more information, visit Antonelli Law or go to Antonelli’s Drone Laws Blog. More information on “Drone Democracy” is available at


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New N Number Registration Service by Antonelli Law – $250 Flat Fee Per UAV

New N Number Registration Service by Antonelli Law

 $250 Flat Fee Per UAV

Having gone through numerous N Number registrations with the FAA ourselves, with some registrations going through easily and others being subject to many unexpected questions, we thought we should expand our N Number Registration Service to clients who obtained their Section 333 Grant of Exemption on their own or with higher-priced law firms.

Obtaining an N Number is required by the FAA prior to commercial operations:”All aircraft operated in accordance with this exemption must be identified by serial number, registered in accordance with 14 CFR part 47, and have identification (N−Number) markings in accordance with 14 CFR part 45, Subpart C. Markings must be as large as practicable.” This involves obtaining original FAA carbon copy forms, a bureaucratic process and tedious details.

Contact Antonelli Law and let us obtain the FAA N Number registrations for you.

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Note: Some UAV registrations may be higher than $250