Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)/Unmanned aircraft systems(UAS), or “drones”” are available just about everywhere these days. Amazon and Google have plans to put forth a delivery system utilizing such unmanned aerial vehicles. Agricultural companies utilizes drones for geosurveying and mapping. The film and entertainment industry utilizes drones to get fantastic angles and shots that a full size helicopter just couldn’t get close enough. Hobbyists and the business industry are enjoying the use and benefits of UAV technology in greater numbers everyday.

UAVs are capable of capturing data via aerial photography and videography with such ease and efficiency. Infrastructure Inspections can be performed without putting human life and limb at risk. UAVs are being used to assist and facilitate anti-poaching methods to protect wildlife. However, many operators and prospective operators, from consumers to businesses don’t realize that, just because you can easily acquire a UAS, doesn’t mean you can fly it anywhere, or for any purpose.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) essentially bans “commercial” use of drones. U.S. overregulation has let other countries fly way ahead. In Germany, Deutsche Post has used drones to deliver prescription drugs. In Switzerland, Matternet and Swiss Post are using drones to deliver mail. Under the Obama Administration, the FAA has missed numerous congressional deadlines to create rules to allow commercial use of drones. Congress has mandated the issuance of such rules by 2015.

On February 15, 2015, the FAA released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for small, unmanned aircraft (sUAS). An NPRM is a public notice issued by law when an independent agency, such as the FAA, wishes to add, remove or change a rule or regulation as part of the rulemaking process. It does not change any existing guidelines, rules, regulations or policy that may be in place. Instead, it opens the door for public comment and the beginning of the rulemaking process. The FAA also recently established the Micro UAS Aviation Rule Making Committee (ARC) to establish rules concerning little iddy-biddy drones which we think of more as toys than tools of the trade.

So, the U.S. is chasing after other countries which are trailblazing the way to commercial UAV operations and it’s starting to make tracks. Until the final rules are implemented, and to learn more, please continue to check out this website’s Law Blog for news updates and to stay abreast of new information as it unfolds.

If you are a UAV Operator or are planning on becoming a UAV Operator and you would like to learn more about your options, please contact our law office now. We are here to help you. You can also browse our Law Blog on UAV Law here.