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Last week, the FAA amended its Compliance and Enforcement Program for enforcement against drone operators that interfere with wildfire response.  This update follows the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, in which Congress authorized the FAA to penalize individuals up to $20,000 for knowingly or recklessly interfering with wildfire responses.  FAA personnel must send cases to the FAA Chief Counsel’s Enforcement office, signaling that the FAA believes enforcement action is the appropriate deterrent.

The new European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on May 25, 2018.  This regulation, which is directly applicable across the EU Member States, applies to the collection, hosting, storage, use and other “processing” of personal data.  The GDPR applies directly not just to companies in the EU, but also those outside of the EU to the extent that they offer goods or services (irrespective of whether a payment is required) to…

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (“ARC”) released its recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”).  Despite a lack of consensus on issues, the recommendations should help the FAA develop new rules for drone identification and tracking. Although the FAA was scheduled to publish an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on identification (“ID”) and tracking requirements in May 2018, the proposed rules remain under review by the Department of Transportation and have missed a February 2018 deadline for the Office of Management and Budget to start its review.  It is unclear when the rulemaking will progress.

Launched in June 2017 to address concerns over “rogue” drones flying in the National Airspace System (“NAS”), the FAA tasked the ARC with providing recommendations regarding UAS remote identification and tracking technologies. Comprised of three Working Groups; Existing and Emerging Technologies, Law Enforcement and Security, and Implementation, its membership represented a broad range of aviation and UAS industry stakeholders.  The ARC met several times to educate the public, gather information, and to discuss and deliberate among members and finalized its report in September 2017. 

As of 1 February of 2018, new rules promulgated by the Swedish Transport Agency will apply to drones. The most significant changes are that all drones weighing less than 150 kilos will be covered by the rules. It will therefore no longer matter if the purpose of the flight is private or commercial. Drones used for special activities – military, customs, police, search and rescue, fire fighting, coast guard and accident investigation – will be exempted from the new rules. For these activities, special conditions apply instead. The license requirement for drones weighing less than 7 kilograms and flying within sight will be removed. Carl Svernlöv outlines the other changes introduced by the new regulations below.

Earlier this month, a small commercial airplane collided with an unmanned aircraft system (“UAS” or drone) during its final descent into Jean Lesage International Airport in Quebec City, Canada.  After numerous near-misses, this was the first confirmed collision between a drone and a commercial aircraft in North America.  The incident has renewed UAS safety and enforcement concerns, but also highlights opportunities and tools necessary to further improve the system. 

EASA is proposing to impose UAS standards throughout EU Member States, harmonizing rules for UAS operations and establishing a low-risk and medium-risk operational categories, Open and Specific, respectively. In addition to the operating rules, EASA is also proposing to impose requirements on manufacturers, importers, and distributors to ensure that operators can more easily comply with the proposed framework, particularly for the operation of off-the-shelf UAS that will not require approvals.  For businesses that want to go beyond the limits of the Open category operations, such as testing new UAS platforms, some form of approval will be required, but EASA is considering mechanisms that can facilitate those operations.  EASA seeks public comments by September 15th.