Search form

Registration System Coming for Drone Users

  • November 11, 2015

Announcing a registration system is in the works for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, the federal government has essentially concluded the risks from these low-flying aircraft are so immediate and substantial that regulators do not have time to prepare comprehensive safety regulations.

In the joint statement by the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, officials said a task force consisting of representatives from the industry, government, and others has been formed, and will have until November 20 to recommend a registration system. The initiative has been fast-tracked because regulators want to have the system in place before Christmas (December 25), when sales of UAS are expected to peak. Besides new owners, the registration system also would extend retroactively to those who purchased robotic aircraft within the past few years.

“Registering unmanned aircraft will help build a culture of accountability and responsibility, especially with new users who have no experience operating in the U.S. aviation system,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “It will help protect public safety in the air and on the ground.”

In addition to snarling air traffic, “nuisance” drones across the country have interfered with firefighters, flown into tall buildings, and crashed into bystanders on the ground, according to The Washington Post. Criminals have used them to smuggle contraband into prisons. Some property owners have become so irritated by drones buzzing overhead that they have opened fire on them with shotguns. At a recent congressional hearing, Representative Peter A. DeFazio (D-Or.) recalled an incident in his state where residents reported that a “peeping Tom” drone had been peering in their windows.

Unlike recreational UAS users, who are largely unregulated, users that operate a UAS for commercial purposes are banned from flying their devices unless they obtain an authorization exemption from the FAA. This ban on commercial UAS operations will continue until the FAA can finalize new safety rules — a step the Post said will take at least another year. The registration system will affect both types of users, recreational and commercial. The good news for commercial UAS operators is that the task force will explore options to improve the current exemption process with a streamlined system that would make registration less burdensome.
 
The new system also will carry as-yet-unspecified monetary penalties for anyone who violates the requirements. The penalties for unregistered UAS devices likely will be separate from the FAA’s current enforcement actions against unauthorized or reckless operations of UAS devices.

FAA has already taken enforcement action against UAS operators who violate the agency’s prohibition on commercial operations, operate UAS devices in a careless or reckless manner, or fly a UAS device above 400 feet or within five miles of an airport without advance permission. In October, the agency proposed its largest penalty by far, $1.9 million, against a Chicago-based aerial photography company for conducting 65 unauthorized flights of UAS over populated cities and in congested airspace. A total of 43 of these flights were within controlled airspace surrounding the New York metropolitan area.

Jackson Lewis’ Workplace Safety and Health professionals caution that it is vital for businesses and employers who want to enter the UAS marketplace to understand that:

  • Operating a UAS for commercial purposes is illegal unless the operator (company, sole proprietor, and so on) obtains a written exemption from the FAA.
  • All UAS pilots are prohibited from flying a UAS in a reckless or unsafe manner.
  • Employers may be vicariously liable for employees operating a UAS in a reckless or unsafe manner.

©2015 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Reproduction of this material in whole or in part is prohibited without the express prior written consent of Jackson Lewis P.C., a law firm that built its reputation on providing workplace law representation to management. Founded in 1958, the firm has grown to more than 900 attorneys in major cities nationwide serving clients across a wide range of practices and industries including government relations, healthcare and sports law. More information about Jackson Lewis can be found at www.jacksonlewis.com.

See AllRelated Articles You May Like

August 21, 2019

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Agency Proposes Changes to Hours of Service Rules for Truck Drivers

August 21, 2019

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on changes to the hours of service (HOS) rules. Background First adopted in 1937, FMCSA’s HOS rules set the permitted operating hours of commercial drivers. FMCSA mandated use of... Read More

June 25, 2019

The Aging Construction Industry: Keeping Skilled Employees Longer

June 25, 2019

Workers in the construction industry tend to be older than those in other industries, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The median age of construction workers is 42 years old, a year older than the median in the national labor force. Further, the median age of workers in the industry is 44-45 years old in several U.... Read More

January 23, 2019

U.S. House Committee to Focus on Workforce Protections

January 23, 2019

Signaling a renewed emphasis on workforce protections at the opening of the 116th Congress, the U.S. House of Representatives has changed the name of its committee with jurisdiction over labor matters back to the Committee on Education and Labor. It was called the Committee on Education and the Workforce when Republicans held the... Read More

Related Practices