Tag Archives: drone law

UAV143 Drone Dealer Expo 2016 – Part 2

An interview by Tim Trott with drone lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht at Drone Dealer Expo 2016.

Jonathan RupprechtWe continue our coverage of Drone Dealer Expo 2016 with an insightful conversation that Tim Trott recorded with Jonathan Rupprecht from Rupprecht Law.

Jonathan notes that the industry will become more regulated and comments on the responsibilities of drone manufacturers and retailers. He also has a very interesting and sobering take on the many organizations that represent the unmanned industry: their objectives, focus on constituencies, power, and approach to dealing with the FAA.

Jonathan comments on regulations that are coming in the future, such as the “micro UAV” rule recommendations, FAA reauthorization, Part 107 changes, and even Part 48 drone registration as a result of the lawsuit. We also hear his thoughts on the “cowboy operators” and the risks they pose.

Tim Trott, from Southern Helicam, is an instructor and the author of UAS Operations: Preparing to meet the anticipated FAA knowledge test requirements for UAS Operator and/or Pilot UAS Rating and The Droner’s Guide: From Beginner to Professional . In the future, we’ll bring you Tim’s interviews with a number the exhibitors at the Expo.

Video of the Week

Watch DARPA’s bizarre 24-motor drone aircraft fly for the first time

The Aurora Flight Sciences LightningStrike aircraft is intended to be a pilotless VTOL aircraft that can carry several thousand pounds of cargo and achieve a 400-knot cruise speed. A one-fifth-scale model has achieved its first flight.

UAV133 UAS Legal Action

“Drone lawyer” Jonathan Rupprecht talks about current legal cases that will have major implications for model airplane enthusiasts and sUAS operators.

Guest

Jonathan Rupprecht, Esq.Jonathan Rupprecht is a commercial pilot with single and multi-engine aircraft ratings and also a flight instructor. He has a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and his law degree from Florida International University School of Law. Rupprecht Law provides legal services for operators of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Jonathan authored the book Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them, Drone Operator’s Logbook, and he co-authored Unmanned Aircraft in the National Airspace: Critical Issues. Technology, and the Law.

Our discussion with Jonathan includes:

  • The FAA’s interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Can the FAA regulate model aircraft?
  • The boundaries of navigable airspace: Down to the ground or something higher? This impacts the notion of trespass by drone, privacy, and federal versus local jurisdiction to regulate.
  • The Special Flight Rules Area (SFRA) around Washington D.C. and its impact on those who fly model aircraft and UAS.

News

Area 51 Bans Drones… Your Drones, At Least

Area 51 is now posted as a no drone zone.

Video of the Week

Safely Travel Deep Inside a Glacier Through the Eyes of a Drone

Flyability partnered with the team from Zermatt Mountain Rescue in the Swiss Alps to explore glacial crevasses.

UAV111 UAVs and the Law

Drones reported by pilots to the FAA

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.

Guest

Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MASSarah 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.

News

Poway approves first-of-its-kind drone law

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.”

As Drones Flood US Skies, States Are On A Legal Collision Course

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.

Drone reports detailed

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.

Unconfirmed midair between Piper Apache and unidentified RPA (update)

FAA Investigating Reported UAV Collision with Piper Twin

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.

FAA Releases Updated Model Aircraft Guidance

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.

Advisory Circular 91-57 Canceled and Updated with AC 91-57A

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.

FAA Selects New Unmanned Aircraft Executives

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.

Bonus Topic

Sony’s quadcopter takes smartphone tech to the skies

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.

Videos of the Week

No Pole Necessary — Watch as Farmer Hooks a Fish With His Drone

It works as long as the fish is smaller than the drone.

Milford Sound – the Eighth Wonder of the World in 4K! Play On In New Zealand

Via listener Jim. Watch this, then buy your plane tickets to New Zealand!

UAV110 Drone Legislation

Sony AeroSense prototype

Drone legislation in the news: private property overflights in California, mandatory drone geofencing, and weaponized drones for law enforcement. Also, ALPA responds to pilot encounters with drones, counter-drone systems, and a Sony prototype drone.

News

Drone no-fly zone in California will stifle innovation, say industry advocates

The California Assembly has passed a bill (SB 142) that prohibits flying a drone under 350 feet over private property without permission. The bill is awaiting signature by Governor Jerry Brown and if it becomes law, flying below 350 feet would be considered a trespass violation.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson, who authored the bill said, “People should be able to sit in their backyards and be in their homes without worrying about drones flying right above them or peering in their windows. We need to balance innovation with personal and societal expectations.”

AUVSI Statement on Passage of SB 142 in the California Assembly

Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), released a statement on the passage of SB 142 in the California Assembly. The statement says, in part:

“AUVSI is deeply disappointed with the passage of SB 142 in the California Assembly. While the industry supports the safe, non-intrusive use of UAS technology, SB 142 creates inconsistencies with federal law that has the potential to further confuse UAS users and stifle economic growth in California. The Supreme Court has ruled that property rights do not extend infinitely into the sky. Only the FAA can regulate airspace; states and municipalities can’t.

“The passage of SB 142 is further proof that it is necessary for the FAA to finalize its long awaited rules on small unmanned aircraft. There is much uncertainty about where operators should and shouldn’t fly and for what purpose. For the safety of our skies and to ensure that there is no confusion between state and federal law, we need Washington to make finalizing these rules a top priority.”

ALPA: Airline pilots ‘very concerned’ about UAVs

Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) president Tim Canoll noted, “pilot reports of unmanned aircraft have increased dramatically over the past year, from a total of 238 sightings in all of 2014 to more than 650 by Aug. 9 of this year.”

With respect to small UAVs operated below the airspace used by commercial aircraft, ALPA advocates: educating operators, using “geo-fencing” to keep small UAVs from operating within 5 mi. of airports, UAV registration at point of sale so owners can be identified after an incident, and “more formalized” enforcement.

For larger UAVs sharing the airspace with airliners, ALPA would like to see FAA regulations and oversight the same as for airliners: operator licensing and collision avoidance technology.

US senator to introduce proposal for mandatory drone geofencing

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer proposed an amendment as part of the FAA Reauthorization Bill that would require manufacturers to implement geofencing on all drones.

Chuck Schumer’s No-Fly-Zone Rule for Drones Won’t Work

At the recent DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas, researchers easily defeated the Phantom geofencing. The DJI Phantom III’s geofence uses a database that contains a country, city, a timestamp, and, the latitude and the longitude of the no-fly zones. The hacker downloaded the database and started just changing entries to make the Phantom ignore the no-fly zones set by DJI.

Additionally, some Chinese researchers reported they could disrupt the geofencing through GPS spoofing, which is illegal but not impossible.

Exclusive: U.S. government, police working on counter-drone system – sources

U.S. government agencies are working with state and local police forces to develop protection systems for vulnerable sites. New York police used a microwave-based system last New Year’s Eve in an attempt to track a drone in Times Square. This test was part of a program with the Department of Homeland Security, the FAA, and the Defense Department.

Sony shows off Aerosense camera drone prototype

Sony and ZMP Inc. have formed the joint-venture company AeroSense and they have a prototype drone that can take off and land vertically. Payload capacity is expected to be 22 pounds, with a two hour plus flight time and a top speed of 106 miles an hour. These autonomous drones could be used for infrastructure inspection and land surveys in difficult to access areas.

First State Legalizes Taser Drones for Cops, Thanks to a Lobbyist

Law enforcement in North Dakota can now fly drones with “less than lethal” weapons, such as Tasers, rubber bullets, and tear gas. The original draft of House Bill 1328 actually prohibited weaponization of drones, but a law enforcement lobbyist added language that significantly modified the intent of the bill.

Mentioned

Robots in the Sky: Cracking Down on Drone Law

An infographic highlighting current laws surrounding drone usage, and what changes we may soon see in the future.

Batteries Carried by Airline Passengers: Frequently Asked Questions [PDF]

The FAA describes the kinds of batteries allowed in the cabin, those allowed in checked luggage, how to calculate wattage, and other important information.

 

UAV105 Guns on Drones

Weaponized quadcopterA weaponized quadcopter, shooting down drones, legislation that would permit disabling drones, and nine ways to not be an idiot.

Guest

Max Trescott joins the conversation. Max is a GA pilot, a certified flight instructor, aviation author, a glass cockpit expert, and a budding drone pilot.

News

Handgun-firing drone appears legal in video, but FAA, police probe further

Father Says ‘Flying Gun’ Drone Video Broke No Laws

About that handgun-firing drone

Viral Video Of Gun-Firing Drone Renews Interest In Legal Restrictions

An 18-year old Connecticut student mounted a handgun on a drone and made a video of the gun firing. Law enforcement isn’t yet sure how to treat the incident, which apparently took place on family property, saying that no Connecticut state laws were violated.

The FAA may not have any regulations that prohibit conducting this activity on private property away from others. It may come down to state law governing the handling and discharge of firearms.

The Connecticut state Senate recently passed a bill banning weaponized drones, but the legislative session ended without action by the House of Representatives. The bill may now get priority when the next legislative session starts in February.

Shooting Down Drone Costs California Man $850 Penalty, One Angry Neighbor

A man visiting his parents in California was flying his hexacopter when a neighbor’s son shot the UAV out of the sky. According to Ars Technica, he thought it was a CIA surveillance vehicle. The owner of the UAV wanted compensation for the damage, and a small claims court judge ruled in the owner’s favor. But the operator has now produced a record of the UAV’s flight pattern. The drone didn’t cross the property line and wasn’t hovering as claimed.

Hold fire! Shooting your neighbor’s drone could be a felony

The FAA considers drones to be aircraft, and shooting down an aircraft has stiff penalties.

Hillview man arrested for shooting down drone; cites right to privacy

UPDATE: Drone owner disputes shooter’s story; produces video he claims shows flight path

Police in Kentucky responded to a report of a firearm discharge, and to find a man who shot down a neighbor’s drone which he says was hovering over his property and invading his privacy. The man was jailed and charged with wanton endangerment and criminal mischief for shooting down the drone. Both parties are considering legal action against the other. The shooter faces a September court hearing for the criminal charges brought against him.

California Lawmakers Want to Let Emergency Responders Disable Drones

In response to recent incidents where small drones hampered firefighting efforts, state  lawmakers introduced a bill in the California Senate that would give emergency workers the ability to disable drones without fear of charges.

UAV Pilots: Rule #1 — Don’t be an Idiot.

The author presents nine guidelines for safe UAV operation explained in simple terms that explain the logic behind each:

  1. Do not fly anywhere around fires or closed airspaces
  2. Do not fly near the President or his house
  3. Do not fly past where you cannot see your UAV
  4. Do not fly over 400 feet
  5. Do not fly near an airport
  6. Do not fly near nuclear facilities, power stations & other important places
  7. Do not fly over people or their property without their permission
  8. Do not fly if you are drunk or high
  9. Do not fly in bad weather

Videos of the Week

Drones at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

A tour of the many drone activities at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015. The new Aviation Gateway Park featured an 80-by-80-by-30-foot drone cage for all attendees to experience flying a drone or take part in an obstacle course.

Aerial Ireland: Fastnet Rock

Fastnet Rock is a small islet in the Atlantic Ocean and the most southerly point of Ireland. It lies 13 kilometres from the Irish mainland. Due to its location, Fastnet was known as “Ireland’s Teardrop,” because it was the last part of Ireland that 19th century Irish emigrants saw as they sailed to North America. Via listener Tom.

Mentioned

Aviation Careers Podcast Episode 87, Drones and Your Aviation Career

Google, NASA work together to design drone air-traffic-control system

Local police first in Pa. licensed to deploy drone

UAV097 Drone Lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht

Boeing patents drones that can be charged midair, from PatentYogiConversation with drone lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht, a NASA and Verizon UAS tracking system, the Google Internet HALE drone crashes, and Boeing patents a drone charging concept.

Guest

Jonathan Rupprecht, Esq.In December 2014, Jonathan Rupprecht formed Rupprecht Law, a firm providing legal services for operators of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Jonathan authored a book on the law in the United States pertaining to unmanned aircraft called Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them. He later was an advisor for one of the amicus briefs for the Huerta v. Pirker case.

We talk with Jonathan about the state of drone law, areas that need to be figured out (like export control, frequency allocation, federal versus local jurisdiction), and what lawyers can offer (such as support for building the business plan.) Jonathan discusses how issues like privacy might already be covered under existing laws, the open issue of navigable airspace, and the notice and comment process.  We also consider building safety awareness among the general drone-flying public.

Jonathan Rupprecht is a commercial pilot for single and multi-engine aircraft ratings and also a flight instructor for airplanes and instruments. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Magna Cum Laude, and a Juris Doctor from Florida International University School of Law.

The first book led into him being requested to be a co-author on an American Bar Association book called Unmanned Aircraft in the National Airspace: Critical Issues, Technology, and the Law. Jonathan wrote on administrative law, the FAA rule making process, and the special rule on unmanned aircraft.

News

NASA Developing Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management

NASA and Verizon plan to monitor US drone network from phone towers

The NASA Unmanned Aerial System Traffic Management system, or UTM, is a  cloud-based concept to manage air traffic operated beyond visual line of sight at low altitudes. UTM Principal Investigator Dr. Parimal Kopardekar says, “We need a way to organize the UAS traffic, whether that’s by crisscrossing or with a bike lane or HOV lane kind of construct. The system can make these things happen based on demand. UTM is a virtual system.”

To learn more, the Guardian filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents and learned that last year telecom company Verizon signed an agreement with NASA “to jointly explore whether cell towers … could support communications and surveillance of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at low altitudes.”

Google’s High-Flying Internet Drone Crashed in New Mexico Weeks Ago

The Solara 50 drone built by Google-owned Titan Aerospace crashed shortly after takeoff. The solar powered, 50 foot wingspan drone is designed to linger at 65,000 feet and provide Internet connectivity. The NTSB is investigating.

Boeing patents system for airborne drone charging

The Boeing patent is titled, “Autonomous aircraft with disconnectable tether” and describes a system where drones drop tethers to ground-based charging stations.

Video of the Week

Sky Pixel LA – SBC Flooding Part 1

Listener Heath sent in the link to this video showing some of the flooding around the Shreveport, Louisiana area. It’s a very artistic portrayal of a very serious situation. Part 2 is more of a look at the effect of the flooding on people.

Mentioned

Here and There June 3, 2015 Max Flight

Max appeared on the KSFR 101.1FM, Santa Fe Public Radio show, Here and There with journalism pro Dave Marash. They talked about drones, applications, regulatory issues, privacy, and more.

Enrique Iglesias Undergoes Hand Surgery After Drone Accident

Singer Enrique Iglesias catches a quadcopter with his hand in his act. Things didn’t go so well for Iglesias in the Tijuana performance.

Extreme Sandbox

Extreme Sandbox in Hastings, Minnesota opened an extreme adventure attraction called RC Adventure where visitors can operate DJI Phantom 2 drones on obstacle courses.