Evolving Law on Airport Implications by Unmanned Aerial Systems
Evolving Law on Airport Implications by Unmanned Aerial Systems, 2017, ISBN: 978-0-309-44659-4
101 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2018
Date Written: October 31, 2017
The use, both public and private, of unmanned aerial systems (“UAS” or “drones”) is a rapidly expanding subset of aviation in America. For example, in the public sector, the United States Air Force currently trains more UAS operators than fighter pilots while the Central Intelligence Agency and Customs and Border Patrol use large “Predator” drones to support domestic defense and national security missions. Meanwhile, in the private sector, sales of micro- and small UAS (“sUAS”) — fixed-wing aircraft and quadcopters weighing less than 0.55 lbs. (approx. 250 grams) and 55 lbs. (approx. 25 kilograms), respectively — flown for hobby or recreational or commercial purposes — are growing exponentially, already numbering in the millions. Further, the potential for use of UAS for humanitarian and commercial purposes across a wide range of activities is enormous, from agriculture to search and rescue to aerial videography to environmental conservation. Companies such as Amazon have demonstrated the successful use of UAS to deliver consumer goods and packages to shoppers.
The wide-spread availability of UAS has opened the national airspace system (“NAS”) to countless new users and uses in less than a decade. But, along with the beneficial applications have come the inevitable threats of misuse and misconduct, most significantly in terms of safety, security, and privacy. How to use and manage unmanned aerial traffic alongside traditional manned aircraft operations is of significant concern and interest to airports and their legal counsel.
In this context, the purpose of this report is to provide a practical guide to assist airport sponsors and legal professionals in (1) understanding the basic legal and operational issues presented by civil UAS flight (i.e., including commercial and recreational uses, but excluding public operations) in airspace over, near, at, and around airports of all types, and (2) evaluating best practices for managing these legal and operational issues.
Keywords: airport, unmanned aerial vehicle, UAV, RPAS, UAS, unmanned aerial system, remotely piloted aircraft systems, drones, aviation, law
JEL Classification: K11, K2, K20, K23, K3, K4, K42,
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation