Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

In a ruling issued today, the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated the FAA’s Registration Rule for small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or drones) that are operated for recreational purposes, otherwise known as “model aircraft.” If the ruling stands, hobbyist and recreational drone enthusiasts will no longer be required to register their drones with the FAA.  The ruling does not affect existing requirements for commercial operators to register their UAS with the FAA.
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The FAA’s Office of Chief Counsel yesterday released new guidance for state and local government authorities as they increasingly seek to regulate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones. The FAA’s State and Local Regulation of UAS Fact Sheet provides basic information about the federal regulatory framework for use by states and localities when considering proposing legislation or ordinances that would affect the use of UAS.

In response to a flurry of local and state UAS policy proposals, the FAA clarified that “A consistent regulatory system for aircraft and use of airspace has the broader effect of ensuring the highest level of safety for all aviation operations. To ensure the maintenance of a safe and sound air transportation system and of navigable airspace free from inconsistent restrictions, FAA has regulatory authority over matters pertaining to aviation safety.”
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that nearly 800,000 small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drones, will be sold this holiday season, and expects sales of an additional 1.9 million UAS to hobbyist and recreational users in 2016. Over the past year we have witnessed a surge in news events involving careless operators misusing drones, including crashes at stadium sporting events and hundreds of incidents involving close-encounters between UAS and manned aircraft.

In response to these recent news reports, the Department of Transportation (DOT) created a registration task force charged with making recommendations to the FAA about mandatory registration of small UAS, including those used for recreational or hobby use. On November 23, the Task Force released the final recommendations report. This week, the FAA released a 211-page interim final rule on UAS registration (registration rule) that incorporates some of the Task Force’s recommendations – and becomes effective next week.
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In a quiet move last week, the FAA made an important revision to the requirements for commercial unmanned aircraft system (UAS), or drone operations, that may signal a significant policy change.

Every day, industry is finding new and exciting commercial uses for drones. Here in the U.S., private commercial UAS operations are, for all practical

The Hogan Lovells Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Group recently held a workshop in Silicon Valley on the regulatory, business, and financial hurdles to operating unmanned aircraft systems. The event was of particular interest given the Federal Aviation Administration’s issuance of its notice of proposed rulemaking for small UAS operations on February 15 and the White