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Unmanned Aircraft Systems

As the regulatory environment for unmanned aircraft systems continues to evolve, companies operating across multiple sectors are relying increasingly on drones to maximize profits, cut costs and reduce safety hazards.

In 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) passed the Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, codified at 14 CFR Part 107 (Part 107), which greatly relaxed the federal regulations governing the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones.

Since then, numerous sectors have adopted commercial drones at an exponential rate. Agriculture and forestry, coastal mapping and restoration, construction, energy/oil and gas, film, insurance, public safety, real estate, telecommunications, transportation and logistics and utilities entities are taking advantage of the immense cost efficiency and safety benefits drones are uniquely capable of providing.

As the federal regulatory environment evolves to foster commercial unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations, key players need to pay close attention to the emerging state and local regulations that are also defining the legal bounds of UAS utilization. 

In addition, public perception of drones needs improvement, particuarly with regard to privacy and safety concerns. Our UAS team understands the challenges of educating the public on the numerous benefits of commercial drones.

“We are dedicated to working with all levels of government and with stakeholders in multiple industries to facilitate public acceptance of drones and hope to shape a favorable regulatory environment.”

Further, state and local government decision-makers must work with federal government leaders and industry stakeholders to facilitate commercial drone operations and remove barriers that threaten to curtail the progression of the commercial drone industry and the use of drones in various sectors.

Our UAS team understands the importance of developing a favorable regulatory landscape for commercial UAS manufacturers, operators and users, as well as the importance of advocating on behalf of the commercial drone industry to facilitate public acceptance of drones. We work tirelessly seeking to limit regulatory uncertainties and remove operational barriers in the hope that our clients may achieve the maximum benefits of this exciting technology. 

We represent both UAS companies and companies seeking to utilize UAS technology in the following:

  • Advising companies seeking to operate UAS beyond the scope of the small UAS rules, including beyond the pilot’s visual line of sight, over people, at night and near airports.
  • Advocating on behalf of suppliers of Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) technology and Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) technology service providers before state and federal agencies and industry stakeholders.
  • Assisting companies with the concurrent navigation of federal, state and local UAS regulations.
  • Advocating on behalf of businesses and trade associations before legislative and executive decision-makers at the state and local levels to promote a favorable regulatory environment for UAS operations.
  • Assisting businesses with crafting and implementing strategies to achieve maximum cost efficiency and risk reduction through the use of UAS.
  • Counseling companies regarding data protection, intellectual property and privacy concerns arising from the utilization of UAS.
  • Counseling businesses on insurance matters arising from the use of UAS, including coverage issues and risk assessment.
  • Drafting contracts, including master service agreements, intellectual property assignment agreements and nondisclosure agreements between UAS companies and businesses seeking to retain UAS operators.
  • Monitoring and reporting on emerging federal, state and local UAS regulations.

Representative Matters

  • Represented unmanned aircraft systems companies and organizations in matters pending before Federal Aviation Administration, including drafting and filing responsive comments to FAA notices of proposed rulemaking.
  • Served as counsel to the DRONERESPONDERS Public Safety Alliance, the world's fastest growing non-profit program supporting the use of unmanned aircraft systems for public safety.
  • Represented one of the country’s first nationwide networks of drone pilots since its inception, advising the company in various legal and government relations matters as the company grew in the span of two years from 10 pilots operating in 4 states to more than 3500 pilots operating in all 50 states and internationally.
  • Advocated on behalf of one of the nation’s leading Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) and Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) technology suppliers before government decision-makers and industry stakeholders.
  • Assisted a UAS company with securing a three-year contract to perform drone services in the aftermath of the devastating 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history.
  • Collaborated with a UTM technology supplier and an aerial inspection company to enable the drone inspection of the collapsed Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans, despite the presence of a Temporary Flight Restriction.
  • Provided legal advice and regulatory guidance to the world’s fastest growing non-profit program supporting the use of drones in public safety.
  • Advised UAS companies and prepared comments in response to Notice of Proposed Rulemakings issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
  • Counseled aerial inspection companies on drone insurance and indemnification matters.
  • Drafted master service agreements, pilot service contracts, and non-disclosure agreements for UAS companies partnering with end user industries.
  • Advised a drone pilot company on contractual matters pertaining to UAV inspections of transmission towers.
  • Represented telecommunications companies in a Louisiana Public Service Commission docket examining the use of drones in storm restoration efforts.

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