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Jennifer Trock

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Last week in a unanimous opinion, the D.C. Court of Appeals upheld the FAA’s 2021 Remote ID Rule, finding the Petitioner’s various constitutional and procedural claims without merit. Remote ID requirements, akin to requiring a “digital license plate,” are widely supported by industry as an essential stepping stone to the expanded use of drones in U.S. airspace. In essence, Remote ID will allow drones to be identified while airborne, greatly enhancing safety and security of drone operations. The FAA’s Remote ID Rule requires operators to have Remote-ID equipped UAS by September 2023. In this case, the Petitioner’s challenges to the Remote ID Rule were primarily focused on concerns that Remote ID technology could allow the government to carry out continuous surveillance in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Other claims included procedural claims alleging the rule was arbitrary and capricious, among others. In dismissing the facial challenge, the Court found that…

With the FAA’s final Engineering Brief for Vertiport Design anticipated to be released within the next few months, this summer has seen an uptick in congressional activity to support the development of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) infrastructure necessary for eVTOL and UAS operations. Following the House’s passage of the Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act (AAMCLA), in 2021, the Senate passed a companion bill in March 2022 that was recently approved (and amended) by the House in June 2022. The bill has since been referred back to the Senate. The Advanced Air Mobility Coordination and Leadership Act Both the Senate and House versions of the AAMCLA seek to establish an inter-agency working group that would be tasked with developing recommendations regarding federal support of AAM “safety, operations, security, cybersecurity, [and] infrastructure” development. The working group would consist of representatives from the FAA, Departments of Transportation, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security…

According to a FAA statement reported by multiple media outlets last week, the FAA has decided to modify its regulatory approach and certify electric vertical take-off and landing (“eVTOL”) aircraft as a “special class” aircraft using the existing “powered-lift” aircraft category. As discussed previously, the FAA has been deciding between two approaches to the type certification of eVTOLs—either (a) type certification using airworthiness standards in 14 C.F.R. Part 23 for “Normal Category Airplanes,” which normally fly only horizontally, combined with special conditions for eVTOLs (e.g., vertical flight), or (b) certification under the FAA’s aircraft certification procedures for “special classes” of aircraft in 14 C.FR. § 21.17 (b) (“Special Class Framework”), whereby airworthiness standards derived from other FAA regulations are incorporated as appropriate. The ultimate direction will have significant implications for both eVTOLs’ route to market and future operational requirements (e.g., pilot requirements, infrastructure, etc.). In light of the industry’s expectation…

As momentum around Advanced Air Mobility (“AAM”) continues to build, regulators have taken several recent steps in support of the development and commercialization of electric vertical take-off and landing (“eVTOL”) aircraft.  eVTOLs are an innovative and emerging AAM technology with potential to deliver sustainable passenger and cargo transportation in urban, inter-city, and rural use cases, using electric power to take off, hover, and land vertically.  The regulatory regime for eVTOLs and AAM is rapidly taking shape, and stakeholder awareness and engagement will be critical on issues such as infrastructure, streamlining regulations across jurisdictions, and aircraft certification.  Recent developments in these areas include: On March 2, 2022, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) published a Federal Register notice requesting public comments on a draft Engineering Brief (EB) 105 for Vertiport Design.On March 3, 2022, the FAA and the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority (“UK CAA”) issued a joint statement announcing that…

Despite strict current regulations, the Vietnamese government is making strides in promoting the use and integration of UAS. UAS have been listed as one of the prioritized technologies for research, development and application under the recent Decision of the Prime Minister No. 2117/QD-TTg dated 16 December 2020. In particular, the Government and enterprises of Vietnam have especially promoted the use of UAS in agriculture and monitoring of energy utilities.  In the agriculture sector, users have applied for UAS to aid in spraying of pesticides and identification of pest-infected areas.  According to a recent official letter from the Ministry of National Defense (“MND”), the MND confirmed the policy that would facilitate the import and preferential tariff and fee treatment of UAS specialized for agriculture purposes, as well as encourage and facilitate research and manufacturing.  In the energy sector, since 2019, the National Power Transmission Corporation, a state-owned enterprise that is currently…

Join the Executives’ Club of Chicago and its Innovation & Entrepreneurship Forum as industry experts discuss future developments in the transportation industry and cover important updates around freight, interconnected infrastructure, autonomous and micro mobility, and public transit.Amidst the backdrop of 2020, when people moved from point A to point B less than ever, transportation innovation persisted as active, energetic, and future-focused. Leaders in technology, transportation, and logistics are moving the needle on the efficiency and safety of moving goods and people – whether it’s across town or across the globe. Exciting trends in micromobility, freight, automation, and autonomous mobility inspire a myriad of questions for business leaders to navigate. As innovation in this sector continues, we must think critically about the effects on consumer safety, land use and traffic patterns, industrial space needs, and the environment.As a long-standing partner of the Executives’ Club, Baker McKenzie is happy to offer complimentary registration for…

On November 17, the FAA announced that it has completed the second and last phase of its Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (“UTM”) Pilot Program (“UPP”), conducted in partnership with NASA. The conclusion of the drone demonstration phase is a significant milestone in paving the way for operations beyond visual line of sight (“BVLOS”). The lessons learned from UPP will support ongoing policy and technology advancement efforts toward enabling BVLOS operations. In the near term, the FAA is expected to release its final rule on the remote identification of drones (“Remote ID”) and a proposed rule for operations over people and at night by the end of this year or early in 2021. These rulemakings will incorporate information and data developed during the UPP. Remote ID is viewed by the FAA as a critical step in the development and deployment of UTM systems to enable routine BVLOS operations. Established in…

The commercial UAS industry in Mexico has become a complex ecosystem composed of technology, product, demographic, and market issues. The diverse applications, data and use that can be obtained from UAS operation is already changing the way companies do business in a large number of sectors, such as logistics, inspection, security, mining, agriculture, safety and other industrial applications that UAS can make more productive and economic. According to the Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography (INEGI), there are approximately 450 registered organizations, including private companies and governmental entities that are using UAS in Mexico. Some of the governmental entities using UAS in their operations are the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Navy, the Center for Research and National Security, as well as the Ministry of Public Security. Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) is one of the hot topics in the UAS world and commercial/industrial application. Many…

On August 17, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued a joint interagency advisory on the use of technology to detect and mitigate unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS” or “drones”) by non-federal public and private entities. The disabling or destruction of a drone through physical force or electronic interference (such as jamming) is a federal crime. The joint advisory provides an overview of the federal laws and regulations that apply to various UAS detection and mitigation measures, which include not only criminal statutes enforced by DOJ, but also a range of laws and regulations administered by the FAA, FCC, and DHS. As detailed in the joint advisory, the use of technology to track and monitor UAS may have numerous legal consequences, even when no action is taken to disable or interfere with a UAS. Accordingly,…

On July 24, 2020, the Trump Administration announced a new policy (the “Updated UAS Policy”) on exports of US-origin unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”), also known as “drones.” The Updated UAS Policy follows the Trump Administration’s UAS policy reforms announced in April 2018 (“April 2018 UAS Export Policy”), which allowed exports of certain US-origin armed and unarmed UAS to occur via direct sales between US companies and foreign end users. Our previous blog post on the April 2018 UAS Export Policy is available here. The Updated UAS Policy does not change UAS export licensing requirements under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations or the Export Administration Regulations, but does remove a major restriction on exports of US-origin UAS. The Trump Administration’s new policy comes at a time when the UAS regulatory climate is undergoing rapid transformation. As previously discussed on Baker McKenzie’s UAS Insights blog, the Federal Aviation Administration is in…