California and more than 30 other states have passed legislation that similarly restrict the use of UAS, including UAS being used for commercial purposes. The states’ regulation of UAS gives rise to legal uncertainties for companies seeking to use UAS commercially. For example, it is very possible that a business that receives a Section 333 exemption may be prohibited under a state law from using the UAS in a manner that is otherwise permitted under its Section 333 exemption.
Companies looking to implement commercial UAS into their day-to-day business operations, whether in California or elsewhere, should pay close attention to what UAS laws are already on the books in California and what legislators are proposing in 2016. At least for the foreseeable future, it appears as though California’s legislators will continue their push for sweeping, all-encompassing UAS laws which may affect commercial UAS operators in unintended ways. Further, ambiguities in the definition of “airspace” may further complicate this new area as the federal government and the FAA continue to prescribe regulations in this area as well.