Caveat Emptor…Ipse Dixit

These are both Latin phrases, “Caveat Emptor”, virtually everyone knows means “let the buyer beware.”  The other, “Ipse Dixit,” is a little more obscure and essentially means “it’s so because I say it’s so.”  You’re probably wondering what the heck these have to do with UASs.

As we all know, we stand at the beginning of a revolution in aviation.  UASs are the natural evolution of the aviation industry and once all the issues are addressed, be they regulatory or privacy or otherwise, there is little doubt that UASs will be part of everyday life.  It’s going to happen.  It’s inevitable.

As is always the case with most societal developments, the legal profession is not far behind.  Not a week goes by where a law firm or a lawyer issues a press release announcing they have formed a UAS Practice Group to address the needs of the UAS manufacturers, operators and/or users.  The problem is that just because you announce you are doing something doesn’t mean you’re qualified or capable of doing it.  The simple fact is that most of these self-pronounced experts are nothing more than that, self-pronounced.

Just because you’re a pilot, it doesn’t mean you’re qualified to represent anyone wanting to get into the UAS business.

In order to undertake representation of a company or individual wanting to get into the UAS business, whether as a manufacturer, an operator or a user, it requires extensive expertise in most, if not all, of the following areas:

  1. FAA regulations and exemptions;
  2. FAA rulemaking process;
  3. FAA enforcement matters;
  4. The structure of the National Airspace System;
  5. FAA certification process;
  6. Aviation liability insurance policies and coverage;
  7. Risk mitigation and management, including the Safety Act;
  8. Aviation commercial agreements between manufacturers, operators and/or users;
  9. Depending on the client, export restrictions, including State Department and Commerce Department issues/concerns;
  10. US and foreign airworthiness and operational regulations;
  11. Privacy and cybersecurity principles and issues;
  12. Government contracting; and others.

The UAS industry has been projected to be in the range of $90 billion over the next ten years.  It should come as no surprise that lawyers want a piece of the action.  But most law firms which announce a UAS practice are, unfortunately, little more than opportunists who are hoping to capitalize on a potential client base which knows even less than they do.  Ipse Dixit.  It’s true because I say it’s true.  I’m an expert because I say I’m an expert.  Our only comment is…NOT!

And, oh yeah, caveat emptor.  Enough said.

(Originally posted August 15, 2014)

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