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Local and state drone laws and regulations at odds with federal authority, a reported mid air collision and other reports by pilots, updated model aircraft guidance from the FAA, two UAS executive positions filled by the FAA, and Sony shows us its camera-equipped quadcopter.
Sarah Nilsson has both an aviation and a legal background. She holds an airline transport pilot certificate for single and multi-engine fixed-wing airplanes. She has also flown air cargo and private business jets, and is a gold seal flight instructor.
In addition, Sarah is a licensed attorney in the State of Arizona. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, with minors in Aviation Business Administration and Aviation Safety.
Sarah also obtained her Master of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle with concentrations in Aviation Safety, Aerospace Operations, and Human Factors. She holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Northcentral University. She also graduated with honors with a Juris Doctorate from Arizona Summit Law School.
Currently, Sarah is the managing attorney of Nilsson Law, PLLC, which she founded. Since January of this year, Sarah has served as full-time faculty at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona, where she teaches Aviation Law, Business Law, and Business Ethics.
Sarah volunteers with the FAA as a FAASTeam Safety Representative and is co-author with Scott Hamilton of the 6th edition of Practical Aviation and Aerospace Law, a national aviation law textbook.
Find Sarah’s personal website at SarahNilsson.org. There you’ll see a number of Aviation topics, including a UAS-UAV Drone News section where Sarah has a very detailed analysis of the new Advisory Circular on Model Aircraft Operating Standards. Look for “AC 91-57A Clarified.” You can also browse through her collection of State-by-State UAS Laws.
Disclaimer: Please note that nothing said in this podcast should be construed as legal advice. Each case is different and you should seek an attorney in your own state who can advise you for your particular situation.
The Poway, California City Council voted to ban drones from flying over most of the city. What started out as an attempt to address concerns over drones interfering with firefighting efforts, grew in scope to cover 75% of the city.
The mayor says, “This is not the perfect ordinance. We are not going to use this like a hammer, and say you can’t play with your drone in your driveway. You won’t see us enforce this unless we have a wildfire and someone is interfering with first responder efforts.”
The growing patchwork of state and local laws and ordinances has commercial drone operators nervous, and with good reason. There are questions of jurisdiction to enact laws, overreaching laws that stifle innovation and commerce, and enforceability.
This article from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) says that 51% of the drone sightings reported by pilots to the FAA have come from California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, and New York.
A twin-engine Piper PA-23 Aztec was struck at 2,500 feet near Lewis University Airport (KLOT) in Illinois on August 27, 2015. The pilot says it was a UAV that damaged a horizontal stabilizer leading edge. Some reports say it was a bird strike. The FAA is investigating.
The FAA published Advisory Circular No. 91-57A, Model Aircraft Operating Standards [PDF] to update the guidance from 1981 to reflect “current law governing hobby or recreational use of unmanned aircraft.” That previous guidance was written in 1981, and “did not reflect the rules Congress wrote into Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.”
The AC incorporates the description of model aircraft operation found in the 2012 law. Also, model aircraft operators must comply with all Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR), and should be aware of Notices to Airmen (NOTAMS). And careless or reckless operation and interference with manned aircraft may be subject to FAA enforcement action.
Commercial pilot, flight instructor, and attorney Jonathan Rupprecht provides his analysis of AC 91-57A. He finds that model aircraft must comply with the new guidance (it is not voluntary), and that it lacks clarity in some areas.
The FAA has filled two new executive-level positions that they say, “will guide the agency’s approach to safe, timely and efficient integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into U.S. airspace.”
The Senior Advisor on UAS Integration is Hoot Gibson. He will “focus on external outreach and education, inter-agency initiatives and an enterprise-level approach to FAA management of UAS integration efforts.”
The Director of the UAS Integration Office is Earl Lawrence, who will “lead the FAA’s efforts to safely and effectively integrate UAS into the nation’s airspace.” That Office is within the FAA’s Aviation Safety organization.
Gibson was Executive Director of the NextGen Institute, providing professional services to the UAS Joint Program Development Office. He owned his own aviation consulting firm, and comes from a 33-year career in the U.S. Air Force.
Lawrence was Director of the FAA Small Airplane Directorate, and had been Vice President for Industry & Regulatory Affairs at the Experimental Aircraft Association.
In Episode 110 we talked about AeroSense, the joint venture between Sony and ZMP, and their VTOL drone prototype. Now we see from AeroSense the AS-MC01-P, which incorporates a high resolution sensor from the QX30 digital camera into the bottom of the quadcopter. The quad is intended to be used in areas like construction zones. It weighs about 3 kilograms and can fly for 15 to 20 minutes on a battery charge.
The AS-MC01-P can operate autonomously, has GPS, Wi-Fi, an inertial navigation system, and a high-speed data transfer module using Sony’s wireless TransferJet technology.
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