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FAA Now Allows Class C Part 107 Airspace Authorizations

Drone Laws Blog by Antonelli Law

On October 31st, the FAA began accepting applications from Part 107 commercial drone operators who want to fly in Class C Airspace.

What’s Class C? Think John Wayne Airport in Orange County, CA or Midway Airport in Chicago, rather than LAX or O’Hare which are both Class B. There are more than 120 Class C airports in the United States.

How to Obtain a Part 107 Airspace Authorization – Like Class C

In order to obtain a waiver for airspace authorization, applicants will need to fill out the FAA’s online form available here. The form for special airspace authorization requires the name and phone number of the PIC, as well as providing the geographic coordinates of the proposed operations. Applicants may also want to consider creating a map of the proposed geographic area, to be provided upon request to the FAA.

Some Tips For Applying For Class C Airspace Authorizations

Applicants will need to submit a waiver for each unique airport they are looking to operate in. Applicants should also  seriously consider breaking up their submission into multiple parts, to make the submission easier for the FAA to review and approve.

The FAA has reported that they have rejected 71 Part 107 waiver requests and 854 airspace applications. Do it right the first time.

The Timeline For Approvals for Part 107 Class C Airspace Authorizations

The FAA allows itself up to 90 days to review an application, but has a goal of eventually reviewing and issuing approvals within a matter of hours. This is a brand new process for Part 107 operations so we can expect some delays and changes in protocol. Hopefully a fully computerized process to obtain airspace authorizations for Part 107 operations will be implemented soon for immediate approvals.

Part 107 Waivers vs Airspace Authorizations

At the time this post was published (November 2nd), the FAA has posted 131 approved Part 107 Waivers to their website, the vast majority of which have been for nighttime applications. The FAA has not yet posted applications that have been approved for special airspace authorizations.

Need Help Applying for Part 107 Airspace Authorizations and Waivers?

The Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group has filed several waivers for its clients. To speak with an attorney to discuss filing a waiver and obtain a quote, call 312-201-8310 or email us at jeffrey@antonelli-law.com.

Note: No part of this post or dronelawsblog.com consists of legal advice. In addition, the process, conditions, and timelines of obtaining approval from the FAA change often and therefore the reader is encouraged to review the FAA source materials on the FAA website.

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Four Antonelli Law Clients Received Nighttime Part 107 Waivers Today!

Drone Laws Blog by Antonelli Law

Four Antonelli Law Clients Received Nighttime Part 107 Waivers Today!

Today, the first day that federal commercial drone regulations referred to as Part 107 became effective, four of Antonelli Law’s UAS clients received permission to fly during nighttime in Class G airspace.

All four clients had previously submitted Section 333 petitions to fly pursuant to the the 2012 FAA Reauthorization Act and requested permission to fly during nighttime.

Under Part 107, a number of drone (UAS) operations are prohibited unless a 107 Waiver is obtained. They are found in Section 107.205:

107.25 – Operation from a moving vehicle or aircraft. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.

107.29 – Daylight operation.

107.31 – Visual line of sight aircraft operation. However, no waiver of this provision will be issued to allow the carriage of property of another by aircraft for compensation or hire.

107.33 – Visual observer.

107.35 – Operation of multiple small unmanned aircraft systems.107.37(a) – Yielding the right of way.

107.39 – Operation over people.

107.41 – Operation in certain airspace.

107.51 – Operating limitations for small unmanned aircraft.

If your company wishes to obtain a Part 107 waiver in one or more of the categories, contact Antonelli Law at 312-201-8310 or email Jeffrey Antonelli at Jeffrey@Antonerlli-Law.com 

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Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group
Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group

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Utah’s New Anti-Drone Law is a Bad Idea Whose Implementation Requires Violation of Federal Communications Law

Drone Laws Blog by Antonelli Law

Part Three in a Series on Federal Preemption – Mark Del Bianco, Special Counsel to Antonelli Law

Utah’s New Anti-Drone Law is a Bad Idea Whose Implementation Requires Violation of Federal Communications Law

This blog post was inspired by a comment on Twitter yesterday that prompted me to read the new Utah anti-drone law, S. 3003, which the governor signed into law this week. Like so much drone-related state and local legislation, the Utah law is well-intentioned but not fully thought through.  In fact, it’s one of the most troubling pieces of legislation I’ve seen in a long time.

In a nutshell, the key part of the law gives the “incident commander” of a “wildfire situation” the authority to “neutralize” an unmanned aircraft (drone) flying within a certain distance of the wildfire.  Neutralize “means to terminate the operation of an unmanned aircraft by: (i) disabling or damaging the unmanned aircraft; (ii) interfering with any portion of the unmanned aircraft system associated with the unmanned aircraft; or (iii) otherwise taking control of the unmanned aircraft or the unmanned aircraft system associated with the unmanned aircraft.”

This Utah law conflicts with a number of federal laws and regulations.  First, if an incident commander were to disable or damage an unmanned aircraft, he or she would be violating 18 U.S.C. § 32, which provides that anyone who “willfully . . . disables . . . any civil aircraft used, operated or employed in interstate, overseas or foreign air commerce . . .  shall be fined . . . or imprisoned not more than twenty years or both.”  To date, neither the FAA nor the U.S. Department of Justice have displayed any desire to prosecute even individuals who admit shooting down drones, so the risk that a Utah state official would be prosecuted under § 32 for disabling a drone may be more theoretical than actual.  But the conflict between state and federal law is real, particularly in light of the U.S. District Court ruling this week confirming that drones are in fact aircraft and the FAA has jurisdiction to regulate them.

Moreover, an incident commander used a jamming device to bring down a drone would be violating federal communications law and might face greater scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission. There is no question that federal preemption exists here.  Unlike the somewhat convoluted preemption situation in the aviation industry, the Communications Act gives the FCC the sole authority to regulate “interstate and foreign commerce in wire and radio communication.” 47 U.S.C. § 151.  The Communications Act’s provisions and the FCC’s jurisdiction “apply to all interstate and foreign communication by wire or radio and all interstate and foreign transmission of energy by radio, which originates and/or is received in the United States . . . .” 47 U.S.C. § 152(b). The federal courts have consistently confirmed that only the FCC has the authority to regulate services that are interstate in nature, or that have mixed interstate and intrastate components. Louisiana Pub. Serv. Comm’n, 476 U.S. 355, 368-369 (1986) and City of New York v. FCC, 486 U.S. 57, 63-64 (1988).

Jamming GPS, cellular or other radio signals used by the drone to navigate and to communicate would be a violation of the Communications Act of 1934.  The FCC has long taken the position that it is illegal for anyone – specifically including the state law enforcement officials – to jam such communications signals.  Take a look at https://www.fcc.gov/general/cell-phone-and-gps-jamming.  For example, Utah and other states have tried for more than six years to get FCC permission to jam cell phones that have been clandestinely smuggled into prisons. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/cff25c89135344acb773c4ec5dbb1837/gop-governors-ask-fcc-address-illegal-prison-cellphones. The FCC has to date refused, and is taking the position that its rules (47 C.F.R. § 2.803) prohibit the manufacture, importation, marketing, sale or operation of such devices within the United States except by federal government agencies that have received an FCC exemption (47 C.F.R. § 2.807).   In the FCC’s view, even owning a device capable of jamming such signals is a violation of the Communications Act, specifically Sections 301, 302(b) and 333.  Its website notes that violations are punishable by fines of up to $112,500 per violation, and could lead to criminal prosecution (including imprisonment) or seizure of the illegal device.

The question is whether the FCC Enforcement Bureau, which has demonstrated increased activity across a wide spectrum of violations over the last couple of years, would see a need to take action to preclude a spate of similar state laws. The Bureau has not hesitated to send warning letters to and impose fines on individuals and entities violating the jamming regulations. See “Recent Enforcement Actions” at https://www.fcc.gov/general/jammer-enforcement. It will be interesting to see if the FCC steps in.

About Attorney Mark Del Bianco 

Attorney Mark Del Bianco is Special Counsel to Antonelli Law’s DSC_2812Drone/UAS Practice Group. Mark has more than three decades of experience representing clients in federal administrative rulemaking, enforcement proceedings, and court reviews at the DOJ, ITC, FCC, FDA, CPSC, and NHTSA. He has litigation experience ranging from state trial courts to case briefs in the United States Supreme Court, and in recent years has litigated the constitutionality of state laws at the intersection of technology and privacy. He also provides transactional and regulatory assistance to a wide array of clients, including fiber networks, satellite service providers, business owners, application developers and cloud services providers.

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Join Me at EAA Oshkosh – Discuss FAA Part 107 & Drones (UAS)

Drone Laws Blog by Antonelli Law

I am very pleased to be speaking at this year’s Oshkosh Airventure 2016 on Tuesday July 26th on FAA Drone Policy Part 107 – the new commercial drone regulations for Part 61 and non Part 61 pilots. While the schedule is changing I am expected to participate in several other related panels as well.

Please join our discussion and bring your questions and opinions on sharing the airspace with drones – unmanned aircraft systems – under the new Part 107!

Tuesday July 26th- FAA Drone Policy Part 107
10:00 AM – 11:15 AM

Expected topics will include:

  • How to Get your Remote Pilot Airman Certificate
  • Operating Rules
  • Part 107 Certificates of Waiver – Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS), Nighttime, Flights Over People

Last year was my first visit to Oshkosh and I was absolutely blown away! Approaching the airfield I witnessed the epic Tora! Tora! Tora! airshow. Then, I spent several hours watching my favorite war-bird since childhood, the P51 Mustang, and ended up meeting a terrifically nice gentleman I only later learned is the famous Jack Roush.

I am very excited to see even more aircraft and people at this year’s show.

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Jeffrey Antonelli, head of the Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group

Jeffrey Antonelli - Head of Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group
Jeffrey Antonelli – Head of Antonelli Law Drone/UAS Practice Group

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How to Become a Part 107 Pilot – Practical Advice

Drone Laws Blog by Antonelli Law

The FAA is getting better dealing with commercial drones.

The new Part 107 commercial regulations for small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), also known as drones, creates a new pilot certificate that does away with the traditional flight school requirement. Part 107 becomes effective on August 29, 2016.

You no longer need to go up in an airplane and learn to fly. Instead, a written knowledge test and a few other details are all that is needed. And if you are already a traditional pilot (“Part 61 airman”) you can simply go through the new FAA online course.

The following comes directly from the FAA and gives you step by step guidance for earning your FAA remote pilot certificate. If you need drone law assistance such as requesting permission to fly at night, or fly beyond line of sight, or business related issues, call Antonelli Law at 312-201-8310 or use the contact form at the bottom of this blog post.

First-Time Pilots

To become a pilot you must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (exceptions may be made if the person is unable to meet one of these requirements for a medical reason, such as hearing impairment)
  • Be in a physical and mental condition to safely operate a small UAS
  • Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge exam at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center

Pilot certificate Requirements

  • Must be easily accessible by the remote pilot during all UAS operations
  • Valid for 2 years – certificate holders must pass a recurrent knowledge test every two years

Application Process

    1. Schedule an appointment with a Knowledge Testing Center (KTC), which administer initial and recurrent FAA knowledge exams
      1. View the list of Knowledge Testing Centers (PDF) to find one near you.
      2. Applicants must bring government-issued photo ID to their test
    2. Pass the initial aeronautical knowledge test – initial knowledge test areas include:
      1. Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
      2. Airspace classification and operating requirements, and flight restrictions affecting small unmanned aircraft operation
      3. Aviation weather sources and effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
      4. Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
      5. Emergency procedures
      6. Crew resource management
      7. Radio communication procedures
      8. Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
      9. Physiological effects of drugs and alcohol
      10. Aeronautical decision-making and judgment
      11. Airport operations
      12. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
    3. Complete FAA Form 8710-13 for a remote pilot certificate (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application) using the electronic FAA Integrated Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application system (IACRA)*
      1. Register using the FAA IACRA system
      2. Login with username and password
      3. Click on “Start New Application” and 1) Application Type “Pilot”, 2) Certifications “Remote Pilot”, 3) Other Path Information, 4) Start Application
      4. Follow application prompts
      5. When prompted, enter the 17-digit Knowledge Test Exam ID (NOTE: it may take up to 48 hours from the test date for the knowledge test to appear in IACRA)
      6. Sign the application electronically and submit to the Registry for processing.
    4. A confirmation email will be sent when an applicant has completed the TSA security background check. This email will provide instructions for printing a copy of the temporary remote pilot certificate from IACRA.
    5. A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete.

* Applicants who do not wish to complete FAA Form 8710-13 online may choose the paper process. Please note that the processing time will be longer if a paper application is used since it requires in-person approval and signature by a designated pilot examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR), or an FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI), and must then be mailed to a Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) for final review and signature. Additionally, a temporary remote pilot certificate will not be provided to the applicant.

Instructions for completing the paper application process may be found in Chapter 6, Section 4 of the Part 107 Advisory Circular.

Existing Pilots – What to Expect

Eligibility:

  • Must hold a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61
  • Must have completed a flight review within the previous 24 months

Remote Pilot Certificate Requirements

  • Must be easily accessible by the remote pilot during all UAS operations
  • Valid for 2 years – certificate holders must pass either a recurrent online training course OR recurrent knowledge test every two years

Application Process:

  1. Complete the online training course “Part 107 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ALC-451″ available on the FAA FAASTeam website – initial training course areas include:
    1. Applicable regulations relating to small unmanned aircraft system rating privileges, limitations, and flight operation
    2. Effects of weather on small unmanned aircraft performance
    3. Small unmanned aircraft loading and performance
    4. Emergency procedures
    5. Crew resource management
    6. Determining the performance of small unmanned aircraft
    7. Maintenance and preflight inspection procedures
  2. Complete FAA Form 8710-13 (FAA Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application for a remote pilot certificate)
    1. Online or by paper (see instructions in previous section)
  3. Validate applicant identity
    1. Contact a FSDO, an FAA-designated pilot examiner (DPE), an airman certification representative (ACR), or an FAA-certificated flight instructor (CFI) to make an appointment.
    2. Present the completed FAA Form 8710-13 along with the online course completion certificate or knowledge test report (as applicable) and proof of a current flight review.
    3. The completed FAA Form 8710-13 application will be signed by the applicant after the FSDO, DPE, ACR, or CFI examines the applicant’s photo identification and verifies the applicant’s identity.
      1. The identification presented must include a photograph of the applicant, the applicant’s signature, and the applicant’s actual residential address (if different from the mailing address). This information may be presented in more than one form of identification.
      2. Acceptable methods of identification include, but are not limited to U.S. drivers’ licenses, government identification cards, passports, and military identification cards (see AC 61-65 Certification: Pilots and Flight and Ground Instructors)
    4. The FAA representative will then sign the application.
  4. An appropriate FSDO representative, a DPE, or an ACR will issue the applicant a temporary airman certificate (a CFI is not authorized to issue a temporary certificate; they can process applications for applicants who do not want a temporary certificate).
  5. A permanent remote pilot certificate will be sent via mail once all other FAA-internal processing is complete.

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Remote Pilot Certification Documents

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