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Recent Case Law

Across many test sites there is a focus on the potential for drone use in agriculture, ecology, and conservation efforts. The University of Alaska site has a research plan addressing development of safety standards, state monitoring of UAS, and navigation.

The Griffiss International Airport site , located in the congested northeast airspace corridor, will consider the implications of UAS on air traffic. This site also will focus on drones equipped with visual and thermal sensors that can monitor and evaluate agriculture. This site also will have an agricultural focus, studying UAS used to evaluate soil and crop quality.

All sites will continue testing through February The six approaches to regulation are: operators, flight, property, devices, behavior, and consent. These regulatory approaches cover a range of drone issues ripe for debate.

Drones: What’s the Law on Small Private Drones? Commercial Drones?

For example, an operator-based approach might ask who can fly UAS, or what certification or licenses are required. The FAA already has certification requirements for some UAS operators, but is expected to build on those certifications as it finalizes a plan to integrate UAS into the national airspace.

One example of the flight-based regulatory approach can be found in a recently-announced FAA exemption permitting six film production companies to fly UAS, but not at night. A property-based approach might consider areas over which drones may fly, how populated those areas are, and whether the property is private or public. Just last week, the FAA announced that operators of UAS or model aircraft could face jail time or a financial penalty for flying within three miles of major sports stadiums , including those used for Major League Baseball and the National Football League.

The announcement, which is an reiteration of a previous policy, is an example of a property-based approach to regulation of UAS.

Background on Drones & Law

Device-based regulation might focus on restricting the capabilities of UAS, including audio and video recording or night-vision capabilities, or maintenance and equipment requirements. Regulating behavior could address what behavior or individuals could be filmed, such as whether it would be permissible to film private or personal activities, celebrities, or other high-profile individuals whose lives often are disrupted by publicity.

Finally, a consent-based approach to UAS regulation might consider whether and how UAS operators might be required to get consent or provide notice in advance of filming.

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All images CC licensed. Credits: 1 U. Navy 4 Flickr user gott. We had to consider everything: wing design, airframe, propulsion, control systems, payload size, access to the payload, aerodynamics, not to mention project and time management skills needed to coordinate this during our heavy curriculums.

Drone Journalism and the Law

Safety is a crucial element of the design of any aircraft, whether carrying passengers or not. Certainly, they can hire experts, but safety needs to be inherent throughout the system. By this I mean that everyone involved in its design from sketching it out on napkins through to final implementation by the end-user needs to eat, drink and sleep safety.

What were to happen if there was a malfunction on the drone? Perhaps a sudden loss of power, controls or telemetry.

Register your drone and submit Airspace Authorization on FAA DroneZone

Its autonomous systems could go out of calibration. It could collide with power lines, trees, vehicles or even other drones. Safety-critical thinking throughout the design will lead to safer vehicles interacting with the public. Drones can be incredibly simple systems. A visit to a local hardware store in the morning and I could return to my garage with all the tools and raw materials needed to build a crude drone from scratch.

Publication – Center for Security Studies | ETH Zurich

A second side trip to hobby shop in town and I could have the engine, servos, wiring and remote to be able to control and pilot the drone. In fact, I could build a drone and have it flying all within a single weekend. Under the current rules, the FAA has issued several cease and desist orders for companies using drones, particularly for filming applications.


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However, these have been overturned by an NTSB judge i. The Pirker Decision because the FAA had declared a regulation without having a public notice-and-comment period. The FAA has appealed this decision. None of this fills me with confidence. Is the future paved with drone intentions? I believe it will be … eventually. However, I advise caution moving forward.

He has an extensive background in commercial and military aerospace projects, and is known for technical savvy leadership and management skills, with a mentoring personality.