I am the first, and perhaps only, lawyer who publicly stated you do not have to be a lawyer to file a Section 333 petition with the FAA for commercial UAS operations – I did this even before the FAA began its Summary Grant process.
What I have said is that hiring a law firm to prepare your petition can save you a great deal of time, leave you knowing the petition has been done correctly, and that the petition is right for the proposed operations you will actually be performing. Plus, you started a relationship with a lawyer who can help you with your post-333 needs.
However, we are seeing folks sloppily copying other companies’ petitions without regard to their content (Eg.: “UAV is the Inspire…flight time is 40 minutes”). Perhaps some of this is coming from companies with non-attorneys selling templates online.
However these errors are occurring, though, the danger in submitting a Section 333 petition that does not match how you actually run your operations, even though it becomes approved by the FAA, is in the event there is an accident your commercial UAS insurance may deny you coverage for the accident claims.
This is because the Section 333 approval you provided to the insurance carrier in your application for coverage contains the text of your petition as well as the manuals you submitted – and are part of the conditions of your FAA approval. Moreover, the Section 333 is part of the factual representations made to the insurance company. The insurance carrier reviewing the accident claim may notice that your operations are not what you represented them to be in the copy and paste job/Section 333 template – and then deny you coverage.
So, if you cannot afford to hire a lawyer to do it for you, do yourself a favor and take the time to tailor your Section 333 petition to the real operations you will be performing. The days you spend doing this work is a far cry from the stress and possible financial consequences you could face taking short cuts that could leave you not only in trouble with the FAA, but also on the scary end of a hook for personal injury lawsuit judgments and attorneys fees.
Note: In my prior work as an attorney I have worked for insurance company clients and participated in litigation involving insurance coverage. If you want to learn more about how an insurance company can legally deny you coverage, just google “insurance coverage declaratory judgment action.”
Disclaimer: None of the information in this website including this blog post is legal advice. Please consult an attorney if you have legal questions. This website is attorney advertising.