January 2015

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    Posted: 1/17/2015
    Attorney says FAA UAS law enforcement guidelines off target
    By Patrick C. Miller | January 15, 2015

    [James Mackler is currently an attorney working in Tennessee. He is a former Blackhawk pilot and current legal adviser for a Tennessee National Guard unit.
    James Mackler is currently an attorney working in Tennessee. He is a former Blackhawk pilot and current legal adviser for a Tennessee National Guard unit.

    The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration?s guidelines for law enforcement to assist in identifying those flying unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in an unsafe manner or in violation of its regulations might create more problems than they solve.

    James Mackler, a criminal defense attorney with expertise in UAS law, said he believes law enforcement agencies will have little interest in helping the FAA enforce civil violations in which they have no jurisdiction.

    ?I would guess that if I was a police chief anywhere in the country, this would go at the bottom of my pile of things to do,? said Mackler, a former U.S. Army Blackhawk pilot with the Bone McCallester Norton law firm in Nashville, Tennessee, who also advises a Tennessee National Guard UAS unit.

    After reviewing the FAA?s guidelines, Mackler said, ?Law enforcement is busy enough investigating crimes, and police should know that they have no authority of any kind to investigate civil violations of administrative regulations.?

    The FAA said it?s asking the law enforcement community for help because the increased use of small, inexpensive UAS creates ?a challenge in identifying people who don?t follow the rules of the air or who endanger the nation?s airspace.?

    ?They say that we must exercise caution not to mix criminal law enforcement with the FAA?s administrative safety function, and that?s right,? Mackler said. ?And yet they go on to basically ask law enforcement officials to help them with their administrative functions.?

    The 12-page guidelines are intended to assist law enforcement agencies in understanding the legal framework for FAA enforcement action against UAS operators. They also provide guidance in ?deterring, detecting, and investigating unauthorized and/or unsafe UAS operations.?

    For example, if a UAV is spotted violating temporary flight restrictions during a sporting event, the FAA says law enforcement officials should attempt to find the operator. They should provide operators with the language from applicable regulations and advise them that they are subject to safety regulations.

    Criminal charges that could be applied include reckless endangerment, operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence, trespass, assault or any relevant local, state or county codes. But Mackler said law enforcement would investigate crimes related to such charges regardless of whether UAS were involved.

    He noted that if a state has passed UAS-related laws such as measures to protect privacy or prohibit UAVs for hunting, law enforcement officers would be operating within their jurisdictions to enforce those laws. Mackler also said that if a UAV was involved in an incident such as causing an accident or injuring a person, the FAA guidelines might be helpful in evidence collection procedures.

    ?The police can only stop someone if they have reaso
  • FAA Grants Real Estate, Agricultural UAS Exemptions
    FAA Grants Real Estate, Agricultural UAS Exemptions

    Posted: 1/7/2015
    January 6? The Federal Aviation Administration today granted two regulatory exemptions for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations, including the first for real estate photography.

    The agency gave the exemptions to Douglas Trudeau with Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, AZ, and Advanced Aviation Solutions in Spokane, WA. Before these exemption approvals, the FAA had granted 12 exemptions to 11 companies in a variety of industries.

    Mr. Trudeau?s exemption authorizes him to fly a Phantom 2 Vision + quadcopter to enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos. Advanced Aviation Solutions plans to use a fixed-wing eBee Ag UAS to make photographic measurements and perform crop scouting for precision agriculture.

    Both applicants also must obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) that ensures the airspace for their proposed operations is safe, and that they have taken proper steps to see and avoid other aircraft. In addition, the COAs will mandate flight rules and timely reporting of any accident or incidents.

    Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx found that the UAS in the proposed operations do not need an FAA-issued certificate of airworthiness because they do not pose a threat to national airspace users or national security. Those findings are permitted under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

    In granting the exemptions, the FAA considered the planned operating environments and required certain conditions and limitations to assure the safe operation of these UAS in the National Airspace System. For example, operations require both a pilot and observer, the pilot must have at least an FAA Private Pilot certificate and a current medical certificate, and the UAS must remain within line of sight at all times.

    As of today, the FAA has received 214 requests for exemptions from commercial entities.