Thank You For Attending the Waivers, Exemptions, and Certification Webinar

Thank you for joining us yesterday on our webinar: Waivers, Exemptions, and Certification: How to get permission to do what you want with your Unmanned Aircraft. We had a great turnout and appreciate your continued support of our Aviation Webinar Series.

If you happened to miss this webinar and would like to view/listen to the Presentation you can find it here. Please be on the lookout for our next Webinar on The FAA Reauthorization and What it Means for You, scheduled for later this month.

The Aviation Symposium Webinar Series Presents: Waivers, Exemptions and Certifications

Waivers, Exemptions, and Certifications:

How to get permission to do what you want with your Unmanned Aircraft

Part 107 has been a tremendous boon to businesses that want to operate unmanned aircraft. Unfortunately, there is still a great deal that cannot be done without special permission. But rest assured, this can be done legally, if you know how.

During this webinar, we will explore what methods are available to obtain permission from the FAA to conduct complex operations beyond the narrow confines of Part 107. We will explore topics such as:

  • What rules can be waived?
  • How do you get a waiver?
  • Can waivers be combined for more complex operations, and how does that affect the process?
  • Does the old exemption process still exist and what is it used for?
  • Are there operations that would require a “certified aircraft”?
  • What is a certified aircraft?
  • What different types of certification are available, and what are their limitations?
  • Are there other certificates that are needed even if one has a certified aircraft?
  • As always, we will also bring you up to date on all of the recent legal developments affecting the UAS industry.

Join Mark Dombroff and Mark McKinnon of the LeClairRyan aviation practice for this free webinar on August 8 at 1–2:30 pm ET, and learn how to use the rules to your advantage and get ahead of your competition.

Register here.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email

Drones: A Uniformly Bad Law

Anyone who operates a regional or nationwide business knows that coping with a patchwork of state and local laws can be challenging. Fortunately, the states also realize that this can be a problem, and will sometimes cooperate to voluntarily establish a “uniform” law.  For example, in 1952, a group of top legal scholars from the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (NCCUSL) got together and drafted the Uniform Commercial Code.  This code has been adopted (with some variations) in every state, and has greatly improved predictability for business owners.

Over the past five years, most states have enacted laws regarding the use of unmanned aircraft. These laws vary wildly in what they permit and prohibit.  Right now, however, the NCCUSL is working on solving this problem by creating the uniform Tort Law Relating To Drones Act.  As with the Uniform Commercial Code, the NCCUSL hopes that every state will quickly adopt the Act as the basis for its state drone laws.


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A Full House at the NTSB…

For the first time since April 2014, the National Transportation Safety Board will soon have a full complement of Board members. On July 24, 2018, the U.S. Senate confirmed the President’s nominations of Bruce Landsberg and Jennifer Homendy to serve as Board members. This is particularly welcome news because since January 31 of this year when former chairman and Board member Christopher Hart departed the agency, the NTSB has been operating with only three Board Members — the minimum number of members needed to meet the statutory requirement for a quorum to conduct official agency business.

Under the statute that addresses the appointment and terms of NTSB Board members, 49 U.S.C. § 1111, the Board is composed of five members appointed by the President, by and with the consent of the U.S. Senate.  The statute specifies that the term of office of each member is five years; however, “an individual appointed to fill a vacancy occurring before the expiration of the term for which the predecessor of that individual was appointed, is appointed for the remainder of that term.”


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Why Drone Manufacturers and Service Providers Should Care About the MGM Las Vegas Shooting Law Suit.

In the wake of the Las Vegas shootings, MGM resorts is facing a barrage of lawsuits by victims claiming that the hotel was negligent in its security procedures.  In an unusual response, the hotel has filed its own lawsuit against the victims.  The MGM lawsuit is asking a court to rule that it is immune from suit because hotel security was handed by a vendor, Contemporary Services Corporation (CSC).  CSC, the hotel argues, has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “for protecting against and responding to acts of mass injury and destruction” and, therefore, MGM is absolved from responsibility.

This pending action becomes relevant to the drone industry.  MGM is referring to legal protections provided by the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002, commonly known as “The Safety Act”.  The Safety Act, passed in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is intended to encourage the private sector to develop and implement anti-terrorist technologies by limiting the liability of companies that have such technology approved by DHS.  The act defines anti-terrorist technology broadly to include products, services, equipment, or devices designed, developed, modified, or procured for the purpose of preventing, detecting, identifying, or deterring acts of terrorism or limiting the harm from such attacks.


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Funding the NTSB … A Continuing Government Saga

In previous Plane-ly Spoken blogs (NTSB Reauthorization–Part I, and NTSB Reauthorization–Part II), we discussed and summarized the key provisions of S.2202, the National Transportation Reauthorization Act.  Senator Thune introduced this bill in the U.S. Senate on December 6, 2017, with co-sponsors Senators Blunt, Booker, Cantwell, Fischer, and Nelson.  The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation considered the bill and, on December13, 2017, approved it by voice vote and ordered it to be reported favorably with an amendment by Senator (and Commerce Committee Chairman) Thune.

The Committee’s issued its report accompanying S. 2202 on July 10, 2018. Senate Report 115-293 contains little information that we did not otherwise address in our two earlier posts.  Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect about the Committee’s report is that it took nearly seven months to issue.  Unlike the FAA Reauthorization bill, Congressional efforts showed little urgency to reauthorize the NSTB.  In fact, Congress last enacted NTSB reauthorization legislation in December 2006 (covering fiscal years 2007 and 2008 only) and the House of Representatives has not introduced its version of a current reauthorization bill.


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LeClairRyan is Pleased to Announce that James E. Mackler has Joined the Firm

James E. Mackler has joined LeClairRyan as senior counsel on the firm’s aviation and corporate services teams. He practices in Nashville.

James focuses his practice on advising businesses, governments, and investors on the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). He works with clients on various regulatory, compliance, and litigation elements of UAS usage (“drone law”) across a variety of applications including hospitality, real estate, insurance, construction, security, video production, energy, manufacturing, and surveying.

Previously, James served eight years of active duty in the U.S. Army. After spending seven years developing a successful private legal practice in Colorado, James was inspired by the events of 9/11 to join the military. He spent three years as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot with the 101st Airborne Division, including a one-year deployment to Iraq. James earned his Parachutists Badge, Combat Action Badge, Air Medal and an Army Achievement Medal during his time in the Army.

James continues to serve as an attorney in the Tennessee Air National Guard, and he also holds a commercial helicopter pilot’s certificate. In 2017, he briefly left practice to campaign for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate, garnering national headlines for his Believe in Service initiative.

A graduate of Duke University (B.A.) and the University of Washington (J.D.), James is admitted in Tennessee and Colorado.

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Ten Years Later and $30 Million Less: SEATAC is NOT Vicariously Liable

The Washington State Supreme Court issued its long awaited decision in Afoa v. Port of Seattle today.  The Court rejected a lower court decision that had the effect of making an airport automatically liable for the negligence of an airline’s contractors, such as ground handlers.  LeClairRyan Aviation attorneys were called in after the unfavorable result in the Court of Appeals and counsel worked on, with the assistance of the preexisting counsel, the appeal before the Washington Supreme Court.  Mark Dombroff executed the oral argument.


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Thank You For Attending the Corporate Aviation Accidents Webinar

Thank you for your continued support and attendance of our Aviation Symposium Webinar Series. During this webinar, LeClairRyan Partner Christa Hinckley and I discussed emergency planning, accident investigation process, tabletop drills and training exercises human resource issues – if the worst should happen.

If you happened to miss this webinar and would like to view/listen to the Presentation you can find it here. Please be on the look out for our next Webinar on Part 107 Waivers  next month!

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“Congress Kicks the FAA and our Webinar Down the Road…..Again!!”

The seemingly endless FAA reauthorization process looks like it will continue for yet another month.  At the beginning of May, it looked like the bill had finally generated enough momentum for easy passage in the Senate.  The House had already dropped its controversial plans for privatization of air traffic control and passed their version of the Reauthorization Act by a wide margin.  The Senate put their version of the bill on the calendar on May 8, and it appeared to be on an easy road to passage in June.

Unfortunately, the Senate never got around to taking up the measure.  According to a recent report, it appears that the Senate will now delay taking up their version of the bill  until the August work period.  Regrettably, sensing that this is a “must pass” bill, the Senate version is already starting to attract non-aviation provisions, such as controversial changes to the meal-and-rest-break rules for truck drivers.  To make matters even more complicated, Politico has reported that Senate Minority leader Schumer has been working to attach the AV START bill, which seeks to make it easier to use autonomous cars, to the FAA Reauthorization.  This may further delay matters and also will make it harder for the House and Senate conferees to reconcile the final version to send to the President.

Because of all of these delays, LeClair Ryan will be postponing its free webinar on the FAA Reauthorization until August 22, 2018.  Hopefully by then we will have an actual FAA Reauthorization Act that we can analyze in detail.

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