Category Archives: FAA

Federal Aviation Administration Updates

2017: The Year of Much Ado…But Nothing!

In terms of major UAS rulemaking efforts, 2017 could best be described as “the year that wasn’t”.  While the FAA had big plans to push forward the new rules for flight over people and finalize the Interpretation of the Special Rules for Model Aircraft, neither of those initiatives saw the light of day. Now, however, it appears that the FAA is gearing up the rulemaking process for 2018.  It is reported that in a recent speech at the Singapore Airshow, FAA Acting Deputy Administrator Carl Burleson announced that the UAS remote identification regulations would be out this year. 

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GAO Questions FAA’s Methodology for Determining Shared Industry-Liability Risks for Commercial Space Launch Accidents

For the second time in 10 months, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has questioned the FAA’s calculations in determining the proper balancing of risk between the federal government and the commercial space launch industry. This risk sharing regime was initially established in the Commercial Space Launch Amendments of 1988 (section 5). Under this regime, space launch companies purchase insurance against claims by third parties and for loss or damage to federal property and personnel as a result of a launch or reentry accident, unless companies otherwise demonstrate sufficient financial responsibility to cover the same calculated damages. The amount of …

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DOT v. FAA: Oversight of regional Air Carriers

A just-released report by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Office of Inspector General (OIG) points to the importance of the regional airline industry in safely transporting passengers, economic changes buffeting the industry, and difficulties encountered by the FAA in monitoring, overseeing, and responding to these economic changes. The OIG prepared the report, FAA Oversight Is Not Keeping Pace With Changes Occurring in the Regional Airline Industry, in response to a request by the ranking members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Aviation. It’s worth a read.

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Drone v. Helicopter: And the loser is…

The NTSB Report into the midair collision between a DJI Phantom and an army Blackhawk helicopter has been released and not surprisingly, the probable cause of the accident was sUAS pilot error. On September 21, 2017, an army UH-60 helicopter was operating in class G airspace at an altitude of 300 feet near Staten Island, New York.  The pilot saw the UAS and took evasive action, but it was insufficient to avoid the collision.  The helicopter suffered a 1.5 inch dent in its main rotor and cracks in the composite fairing and a window frame.  The Phantom was destroyed with …

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“Sir/Madam, Show Me Your License and Registration”

The long and tortured path to mandatory registration of all hobby aircraft appears finally to be at an end.  After a seven month hiatus, the law is changing once again, and the registration requirement is being reinstated. As most of you will remember, the FAA unexpectedly issued regulations on an emergency basis just before Christmas 2015 that required all hobby aircraft under .55 pounds to be registered with the FAA. 

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UAS: Preemption Means Preemption!!

State and local governments have not been shy about attempting to regulate almost every aspect of drone operations.  Some of these efforts have been completely appropriate and aimed at areas subject to local control, such as prevention of stalking and voyeurism.  However, all too often, state and local governments have also turned their attention to issues completely under federal control. One example of just such an ill advised ordinance was passed by the City of Newton, Massachusetts in December 2016.  This law:

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