“In Part 107, the FAA conceded that certain legal aspects concerning drone use may be best addressed at the state or local level.”
Some of the legal issues discussed in this blog merit a more in-depth analysis and discussion. That level of analysis and discussion, however, is not well-suited for a blog, due to length and other issues. For that reason, we also publish in other forums which are better suited to a more in-depth analysis and discussion.
State and local laws regulating drones often conflict in some way with both the FAA’s assertion of exclusive authority over the national airspace and its resolve to establish a single national policy for drones.
To address these contemporary and dynamic issues, Fox Rothschild attorneys Mark Connot and Jason Zummo, members of the firm’s UAS/Drones practice group, recently authored Everybody Wants To Rule the World: Federal vs. State Power To Regulate Drones, to be published in the widely recognized journal, The Air & Space Lawyer, Volume 29, Number 3, 2016.
In the article, Connot and Zummo analyze the ways in which federal preemption currently applies in the aviation context and the potentially fraught relationship between the interests of federal, state, and local governments in regulating drones. In addition to highlighting a recently introduced federal legislative measure that could provide a path to reconciling those regulatory interests, the authors conclude that state and local authorities should regulate drone uses with restraint, recognizing both the breadth of federal regulatory authority over aviation and the need to encourage, not suffocate, this burgeoning industry.
Click here to view the full article.
Fox Rothschild LLP consistently puts out an excellent blog on drones and UAS. They just finished a number of articles on privacy. Now comes this fascinating paper which addresses what rights the FAA has under Part 107 (there is no preemption provision) and neatly summarizes the arguments for and against state regulation. (And you’ve got to love the title.)
The article is particularly timely given the formation of a working group at the first DAC meeting to specifically address “The apparent disconnect between the FAA preemption authority over all airspace and the lack of FAA authority to deal with the misuse of drones (other than unsafe operations).”
As I have written many times, one of the things that is unique about drones is that they can take off and land anywhere. Given the FAA’s own forecasts for millions of units, that makes drone regulation a very different issue than managing the ~5,100 paved airports and the 5,000 planes that are in the air at any given time in the US. Add to that the recognition that enforcement must be local, and the negative attitude towards drones held by much of the public and it is easy to understand legislators who feel the need (or political pressure) to take matters into their own hands.
Still it is hard to argue with Connot and Zummo’s recommendation to try not to kill the golden goose quite yet:
The surge in drone technology has tremendous economic potential for states that have a favorable regulatory environment for this burgeoning industry. Therefore, state lawmakers must exercise caution to avoid enacting reactionary, burdensome, and restrictive laws specifically directed toward drone operations. Those laws risk alienating the drone industry and impeding economic development. Instead, state lawmakers should strike a balance that allows the use of drones for commercial and recreational purposes while addressing citizen concerns in a narrowly tailored manner, recognizing that overreaching state laws may be preempted.