UAS: Not So Happy Wedding Bells!

Today we present an update to our story from last month involving an insurance coverage dispute between a wedding photographer and his insurer.  Unfortunately for the photographer, our predication on how this case would come out was correct.

As you will recall, the photographer in question was sued in state court by a wedding guest who claimed that she lost the sight in one eye after the drone hit her. The photographer had a general liability policy with one million dollars of coverage.  Unfortunately for the photographer, his policy, like most general liability policies, contained an exclusion for accidents arising out of the use of an aircraft, and the insurer denied coverage.  The photographer disagreed with the insurer, arguing that there was coverage because “a drone equipped with a camera is not capable of transporting persons or cargo,” and should be considered “a piece of equipment,” not “an aircraft or vehicle.”  

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The New Aircraft Charter Rules: A Deep Dive!

After nearly ten years of work, the FAA has finally issued a new set of comprehensive regulations governing “air charter brokers” and how they operate. According to the Department of Transportation, these new rules are intended to “facilitate innovation and growth in the air charter industry while strengthening the legal protections provided to consumers of charter air transportation.”

In addition, in 2019, the FAA and DOT will be conducting increased surveillance, oversight, and enforcement of charter operators and brokers.

The new regulations, which go into effect on February 14, 2019, come at a time when the aircraft charter market is leading the resurgence in domestic business aviation.

According to one report, charter activity during the first half of 2018 was up by more than five percent, putting it at levels not seen in more than a decade. That demand is only going to increase, with estimates that the global charter market will hit revenues of $31 billion between 2018 and 2022.

For this 90 minute complimentary webinar, LeClairRyan’s Aviation Team invites you to join us as we unpack these new regulations and explain what you must, can, and cannot do. Among the questions we will answer are:

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Agenda Update: The 2019 Aviation Symposium, Feb 5 – 7, 2019 in Tysons Corner

Wow! The clock is ticking and The 2019 Aviation Symposium is rapidly approaching.

Our opening panel will focus upon accidents/incidents/events outside the United States. Nimbus Airlines will (in all likelihood), shortly before the Symposium, experience an issue somewhere in the world.

Our crystal ball tells us there will be serious injuries, possibly a fatality, a criminal investigation, language and cultural issues, time zone problems and more. So get ready for an energetic and thought provoking discussion/panel.

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UAS: Drones Are Airplanes: Check Your Insurance Policy!

Virtually every businessperson knows that he or she needs insurance to protect their enterprise.  Most are even aware that insurance is not “one policy fits all.”  They have auto insurance to cover their vehicles and drivers, workers compensation insurance to cover workplace injuries, and comprehensive general liability or professional liability insurance to cover the work that is done.  However, it appears that many do not realize that if they use unmanned aircraft, there is likely a hole in their insurance protections.

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Airplanes and Artificial Intelligence Part II

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) and autonomous vehicle technologies (“AVT”) have the potential to redefine how the aviation industry operates.  While the operational changes that these technologies will bring are being widely explored, the legal issues raised by their rapid introduction into the industry are not.  In this two part series, we will be looking at applications for AI in aviation and its effect on the legal liability and regulation of those who use it. See Part 1 here.

What are the legal issues?

The most interesting legal issue surrounding these technologies will not emerge unless and until a robot or other type of machine becomes self-aware.  At that point, the world will have to deal with many ethical and philosophical questions that are well beyond the scope of this article.  Many countries and governmental entities, however, are already on the road to regulating other aspects of AI.

Even though many of the emerging legal issues are starting to be recognized, one thing is certain:  The law will significantly lag, not anticipate, the legal issues brought forth by this rapidly evolving technology because AI computes faster than legislatures can act.  We can say that with metaphysical certainty because the law is always slow to adapt to technology, especially technologies changing as quickly as AI and AVT.  That lag is where attorneys, who find themselves dealing with these issues, will earn their money and make a little legal history.

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Airplanes and Artificial Intelligence Part 1: What is it and how is it used?

Artificial intelligence (“AI”) and autonomous vehicle technologies (“AVT”) have the potential to redefine how the aviation industry operates.  While the operational changes that these technologies will bring are being widely explored, the legal issues raised by their rapid introduction into the industry are not.  In this two part series, we will be looking at applications for AI in aviation and its effect on the legal liability and regulation of those who use it. 

What is it and how is it used?

What is artificial intelligence?

No one agrees on the definition of AI.  While the term dates to 1955, it continues to conjure thoughts of HAL from 2001, or Skynet from James Cameron’s Terminator movies.[1]  In reality, AI generally refers to algorithms and related statistical methods aimed at imitating (or exceeding) human reasoning, pattern recognition, problem solving and learning capabilities.

Modern “AI” algorithms are hungry for data.  They rely on massive amounts of information (generally referred to as “big data”) to drive a mathematical “training” process called “machine learning.”  Once these algorithms have been “trained,” they can quickly identify patterns, changes, and solve problems present in the processed data, provided that the underlying algorithm is designed to detect such patterns and changes, or to solve such problems.

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In the Third Circuit, Preemption Does Not Mean Preemption

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has once again considered whether state law tort claims based on defects in aviation products are preempted by federal law. This time, in a 2-1 decision, the court ruled that an engine manufacturer can be sued over a defective product design even though the aircraft’s design was approved by the FAA and the components had a valid type certificate. Sikkelee v. Precision Airmotive Corporation, No. 17-3006 (October 25, 2018).

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Thank You for Attending our ‘Pipelines and the SAFETY Act: Limiting Your Liability’ Webinar

Thank you for joining us for our webinar: Pipelines and the SAFETY Act: Limiting Your Liability. We had a great turnout and appreciate your continued support.

This free webinar, from our Emergency Response and Preparedness Practice Attorneys, provided information for pipeline companies as well as information for airports, insurance risk managers, and other pipeline related UAS operators.

If you happened to miss this webinar and would like to view/listen to the presentation you can find it here.

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Registration is Now Open for the 13th Annual Aviation Symposium!

Register Here for the 13th Annual Aviation Symposium.

In our 13th annual symposium this February, we will focus on, among other things, aviation accidents, incidents and events occurring outside the United States. Issues and areas to be considered, include:

  • ICAO Annex 13
  • The role of your Company
  • The role of the NTSB and the State Department
  • Criminalization of your accident
  • Getting the crew out of the country . . . or not?
  • Family assistance challenges

and a whole host of issues, problems and challenges you face when flying outside the United States.

The preliminary agenda is being finalized and will be available shortly.
As always, in order to insure we address the most current and topical issues, our agenda is
“a work in progress.” One thing you can count on, however, is that it will be great!

You can read more, as well as register on the event page.

Hotel Reservations

The Symposium will be held at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia.  Make sure you book as soon as you can, as we have run out of rooms in the past.

Rate: Deluxe Room is $259 per night, single or double, plus applicable taxes
Reservations Number: 1-800-241-3333
Cutoff date: January 14, 2019

Book your group rate for 13th Annual Airline Symposium Hosted by LeClairRyan
Online Group Code: ASLASLA

Symposium App

Our enormously popular Symposium App will be available shortly. Be on the lookout for more details.
The app features:

• The most up-to-date event schedule
• Speaker profiles
• Brochures, slide decks, videos and other reference materials
• The Aviation Emergency Response Handbook
• A searchable attendee directory
• Private messaging with fellow attendees
• Commentary from LeClairRyan’s Plane-ly Spoken blog
• Our new podcast “Plane-ly Spoken”

CLE CREDIT Application for accreditation of this course or program is currently pending. Please indicate your interest/applicable states when registering. Please contact aviationpractice@leclairryan.com for more information.

QUESTIONS Please contact Barbara Butler at 703.647.5965 or barbara.butler@leclairryan.com or Lauren Duda-Compton at 703.647.5915 or lauren.duda-compton@leclairryan.com.

We look forward to seeing you all in February!

Thank You For Attending The FAA Reauthorization Act Webinar

Thank you for joining us for our webinar: The FAA Reauthorization Act: What is in it and what does it mean for you? We had a great turnout and appreciate your continued support of our Aviation Webinar Series.

If you missed this webinar and would like to view the slides or listen to the presentation you can find them here. Please be on the lookout for the next Webinar on Pipelines and the SAFETY Act: Limiting Your Liability.