Proposed Drone Legislation


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

How the 21st Century AIRR Act Affects Drones

21st-Century-AIRR-Act-Affects-Drones

The scope of this is ONLY for unmanned aircraft since that is what my business is about. :)

The title of the bill is “21st Century Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act’’ and has multiple provisions for unmanned aircraft.

I’ll outline below the major provisions for each of the areas. I’ll continue to update this as I read through the documents.

 

 

GENERAL

  • Calls for the creation of a non-profit corporation called American Air Navigation Services Corporation.
  • “The Secretary shall transfer operational control over air traffic services within United States airspace and international airspace delegated to the United States to the Corporation on the date of transfer in a systematic and orderly manner that ensures continuity of safe air traffic services.”
  • Individuals who use air traffic services are assessed a fee.
  • AIR TRAFFIC SERVICES.— “The term ‘air traffic services’ means services (A) used for the monitoring, directing, control, and guidance of aircraft or flows of aircraft and for the safe conduct of flight, including communications, navigation, and surveillance services and provision of aeronautical information; and  (B) provided directly, or contracted for,  by the FAA before the date of transfer.”
  • ‘‘(12) UTM.—The term ‘UTM’ means an unmanned aircraft traffic management system or service.”
  • “(b) PREEMPTION.—A State, political subdivision of a State, or political authority of at least 2 States may not enact or enforce a law, regulation, or other provision having the force and effect of law related to air traffic services.”
  • This act cleans up Sections 331-336 from the FMRA of 2012. It also puts it in the United States Code in Title 49, Chapter 455.

ADVISORY BOARD

  • The advisory board advising the non-profit corporation shall have on it unmanned aircraft operators and unmanned aircraft manufacturers.

Questions:

  • Does this also include community based organizations like the Academy of Model Aeronautics?

 

UTM

  • “[T]he Federal Aviation Administration shall initiate a rulemaking to establish procedures for issuing air navigation facility certificates pursuant to section 44702 to operators” of UTM for unmanned aircraft operations.
  • While the regulations are getting created, the FAA shall determine shall determine, at a minimum, which types of UTM and low-altitude CNS, if any, as a result of their operational capabilities, reliability, intended use, and areas of operation, and the characteristics of the aircraft involved, do not create a hazard to users of the national airspace system or the public.”
  • The DOT shall “provide expedited procedures for reviewing and approving UTM or low-altitude CNS operated to monitor or control
    aircraft operated primarily or exclusively in airspace above—(1) croplands; (2) areas other than congested areas; and (3) other areas in which the operation of unmanned aircraft poses very low risk.

 

OPERATION OF UNMANNED AIRCRAFT

  • Provides for a risk-based permitting process. One interesting thing is when the FAA is evaluating the operations, it SHALL look at 8 elements, 1 of which says, “Any history of civil penalties or certificate actions by the Administrator against the applicant seeking the permit.”
  • The permit lasts for 5 years.
  • This permit is completely separate from Part 107.
  • Tells the FAA to shall establish a “procedure for granting an exemption and issuing a certificate of waiver or authorization for the operation of a small unmanned aircraft system[.]”  Where has the writer of this bill been the last couple of years? It then goes on to list an exemption like and reference “Exemption No. 11687, issued on May 26, 2015, Regulatory Docket Number FAA–2015-0117, or in a subsequent exemption[.]”  This exemption was of the 2nd generation of exemptions (remember “closed set” filming) and it doesn’t make sense why they cited this one and not a post march 15, 2016 exemption which was better. But it does say “or in a subsequent exemption” so it ultimately doesn’t matter but I found that interesting

MODEL AIRCRAFT

  • Upholds the protections of Section 336 regarding model aircraft flyers but DOES allow the FAA to create a registration system for model aircraft.
  • The Section 336 provisions, which used to be 5 elements, now includes the requirement that the drone cannot fly over a fixed site facility that “operates amusement rides available for use by the general public or the property extending 500 lateral feet beyond the perimeter of such facility unless the operation is authorized by the owner of the amusement facility[.]”
  • Commercial education of unmanned aircraft falls into the protections for model aircraft.
  • The new language defines what a community based organization is 501(c)(3), is exempt from tax under 501(a), “mission of which is demonstrably thefurtherance of model aviation[,]” provides programming and support local charter organizations, affiliates, or clubs, etc….
  • Tells the FAA to create within 180 days of passage a process for recognizing a community based organization.

 

PACKAGE DELIVERY

  • Creates a small UAS air carrier certificate for property transport.

 

COMPTROLLER GENERAL STUDY

• “the Comptroller General of the United States shall initiate a study on appropriate fee mechanisms to recover the costs of— (1) the regulation and safety oversight of unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems; and (2) the provision of air navigation services to unmanned aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems.”

 

PUBLIC AIRCRAFT

  • Allows Indian tribes to obtain public aircraft status using unmanned aircraft. What about manned aircraft?

HUH?

  • ‘‘(g) EFFECTIVE PERIODS.—An exemption or certificate of waiver or authorization issued under this section, or an amendment of such exemption or certificate, shall cease to be valid on the effective date of a final rule on small unmanned aircraft systems issued under section 45502(b)(1).”  I have no clue what in the world this mean since Section 45502 is really the “updated” version of Section 332 of the FMRA of 2012 and was finally fulfilled by the FAA in the creation of Part 107 in August 29th, 2016.
  • In Section 434, it says, ” It is the sense of Congress that …..the unauthorized operation of unmanned aircraft near airports presents a serious hazard to aviation safety; ……91.126 through 91.131 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, prohibit unauthorized operation of an aircraft in controlled airspace near an airport ……Federal aviation regulations, including section 91.13 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations, prohibit the operation of an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.”   Why are they citing Part 91 when unmanned aircraft operate under Part 107? Yes, I know Section 333 exemption operations are under Part 91 but this is like some weird hold over from the pre-107 days.

Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Drone Innovation Act of 2017 (HR 2930)

Brief Summary:

The Drone Innovation Act of 2017 was introduced by Representative Jason Lewis on June 16, 2017. It was referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. This bill is similar to Senator Feinstein’s Drone Federalism Act recently introduced in that it seeks to clarify this murky area of how states and local governments can regulate unmanned aircraft.  I don’t know how far this bill will go because it has provisions that many will love and other provisions they will hate.

My Thoughts:

The FAA has created a drone advisory committee to study out this very issue and present consensus recommendations. I think the wisest thing to do would be to wait until those consensus recommendations are completed. When it comes to chopping up the airspace, I think we should take the advice of my grandfather when he taught me about woodworking: “measure twice, cut once.”

Notable Points of the Drone Innovation Act:

  • “[T]he Secretary of Transportation shall, after consultation with State, local, and Tribal Officials, and other appropriate stakeholders, publish a civil unmanned aircraft local operation policy framework[.]”
  • The policy framework required shall “provide guidelines to aid States, local and Tribal governments and, to the degree possible, standardizing reasonable time, manner, and place limitations and other restrictions on operations of civil and small unmanned aircraft that are local in nature[.]”
  • “In crafting the policy framework and in prescribing any future regulations or standards related to civil unmanned aircraft systems, the Secretary of Transportation shall define the scope of the preemptive effect of any civil unmanned aircraft regulations or standards pursuant to section 40103 or 41713 of title 49, United States Code.”
  • “In formulating and implementing the policy framework required pursuant to subsection (a) and any future regulations, policies or standards related to civil unmanned aircraft systems, the Secretary shall abide by and be guided by the following fundamental principles” list in 11 section. (I think this sort of acts like an Executive Order 12,866 for drone regulations).
  • The Secretary of the DOT shall enter into a pilot program with 20-30 State, local, or Tribal governments to provide technical assistance to such governments in regulating the operation of small and civil unmanned aircraft systems.
  • “In prescribing regulations or standards related to civil or small unmanned aircraft systems, the Secretary shall not authorize the operation of small or civil unmanned aircraft in airspace local in nature above property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy without permission of the property owner.”
  • “[N]o cause of action, claim or remedy may be made solely because of the transit of an unmanned aircraft through airspace local in nature over private property in the absence of proof that such transit substantially interfered with the owner or lessee’s use or enjoyment of the property or repeatedly transited the airspace local in nature above the owner’s property.”
  • “[T]he Secretary shall not issue any rule or regulation that impedes or operates contrary to the authority of the State, local, or Tribal government to define private property rights as it applies to unmanned aircraft in the airspace above the property that is” 200ft above ground level and below and within the lateral boundaries of a State, local or Tribal government’s jurisdiction.
  • “A State or local government may not unreasonably or substantially impede the ability of a civil unmanned aircraft, from reaching the navigable airspace.” Examples include: outright bans, excessively large prohibitions, a combination of restrictions that have the practical effect of unreasonably impeding.
  • “Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent an operator or pilot from operating a small or civil unmanned aircraft over their own property, right of way, easement, lands, or waters.”

Who Supports the Drone Innovation Act:

  • Representative Jason Lewis (MN-02) (He introduced it).
  • Representatives Brownley (D-CA-26)
  • Representative Rokita (R-IN-04)
  • Representative Garamendi (D-CA-03)

Those Who Objected to the Drone Federalism Act:

The Drone Federalism Act is similar to this act in that it attempts to answer the question of how can states and local governments regulate unmanned aircraft. 13 organizations sent a letter to lawmarkers speaking out against the Drone Federalism Act and said “lawmakers should wait until efforts such as the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) have created consensus recommendations – with input from stakeholders – before considering changes to longstanding federal governance of the NAS. Legislating changes before consensus is reached may have dramatic unintended consequences that could stifle innovation, restrict economic growth and interstate commerce, and potentially compromise safety.” I think these organizations will react to this bill in a very similar way. These organizations include:

  • Brian Wynne, President and CEO of Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
  • Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of Consumer Technology Association
  • Mark R. Baker, President and CEO of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
  • Rich Hanson, President of Academy of Model Aeronautics
  • Robin Rorick, Group Director, of American Petroleum Institute
  • Melissa Lyttle, President of National Press Photographers Association
  • Matthew S. Zuccaro, President and CEO of Helicopter Association International
  • Edward M. Bolen, President and CEO of National Business Aviation Association
  • Jim Goldwater, Director of Legislative & Regulatory Affairs of National Association of Tower Erectors
  • Lisa Ellman & Gretchen West, Co-Executive Directors of Commercial Drone Alliance
  • Kara Calvert, Executive Director of Drone Manufacturers Alliance
  • Peter F. Dumont, President and CEO of Air Traffic Controller Association
  • Michael Drobac, Executive Director of Small UAV Coalition
  • Trish Gilbert, Executive Vice-President of National Air Traffic Controllers Association

Pros:

  • It does say a state or local government may not unreasonably or substantially impede the ability of a civil unmanned aircraft, from reaching the navigable airspace which is great. This section could be made much better by actually including some language saying that if the drone flyer is successful in winning a lawsuit against the state or local government that their attorney fees would be awarded.
  • The state, local, and tribal governments will create laws to crack down on the unsafe drone flyers. I don’t know many will go all the way so as to say operating contrary to Part 107 is unsafe for the public.
  • It does not have the language that Senator Feinstein had regarding restrictions that could go laterally 200ft.
  • The FAA could be broad in preempting things and divest the states, local, and tribal governments from regulating in many areas. The FAA loves to do regulatory land grabs. Just see the Taylor v. FAA case.

Cons:

  • Section 3(d) is going to slow down the rulemaking process even further for future drone regulations to figure out this new problem. The FAA is choked bad enough with Section 336, President Trump’s Executive Order (2 for 1 deal), and their limited human resources to get out the over people, night, and extended line of sight operation regulations out. They won’t want a repeat of the Taylor case by doing things sloppy.
  • “Secretary shall not authorize the operation of small or civil unmanned aircraft in airspace local in nature above property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy without permission of the property owner.” This 200ft “floor” will push drone aircraft further up into the national airspace which will be a problem when operating in urban environments with large amounts of aircraft in the area. Part 107 requires airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace, there is a lot near major cities, and the operating altitude gets lower the closer you get to the airport. This means the operational envelope for drone operations in urban environments for drone delivery (like Amazon drone delivery) will be much smaller if they have to be above 200ft while staying low enough to not interfere with manned aircraft. See my article on Amazon Drone Delivery and the legal issues they face.
  • This has the net effect of pushing more operations above 200ft. Helicopter pilots, do you like that?

Questions Left Unanswered:

  • “[T]he Secretary of Transportation shall, after consultation with State, local, and Tribal Officials, and other appropriate stakeholders, publish a civil unmanned aircraft local operation policy framework in the Federal Register.” How in the world is going to happen in 6 months??!?!?!

 

Section 1. SHORT TITLE

This Act may be cited as the “Drone Innovation Act of 2017”.

Section 2. DEFINITIONS

In this Act the following definitions apply:

(1) CIVIL AIRCRAFT. – The term “civil aircraft” with respect to an unmanned aircraft system, means that the unmanned aircraft is not a public aircraft as defined in a section of 40102 of title 49, United States Code.
(2) LOCAL GOVERNMENT. – The term “local government” means a unit of government that is a subdivision of a State, such as a city, county, or parish.
(3) LOCAL OPERATION. – The terms “local operation” and “local in nature” refer to flights or portions of civil unmanned aircraft that occur in airspace –

(A) Up to 200ft above ground level; and
(B) The lateral boundaries of a State, local or Tribal government’s jurisdiction

(4) SMALL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT. – The term “small unmanned aircraft” has the same meaning as such term is defined in section 331(5) of the FAA Reform and Modernization Act of 2012.
(5) STATE. – The term “State” means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, and the territories and possession of the United States.
(6) TRIBAL GOVERNMENT. – The term Tribal Government” means the governing body of an Indian Tribe (as defined in section 4 the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5304)).

Section 3. CIVIL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT POLICY FRAMEWORK

(a) IN GENERAL – Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall, after consultation with State, local, and Tribal Officials, and other appropriate stakeholders, publish a civil unmanned aircraft local operation policy framework in the Federal Register.
(b) CONTENTS. – The policy framework required pursuant to subsection (a) shall –

(1) provide guidelines to aid States, local and Tribal governments in harmonizing and, to the degree possible, standardizing reasonable time, manner, and place limitations and other restrictions on operations of civil and small unmanned aircraft that are local in nature;
(2) take into account the economic and non-economic benefits, such as civic or educational uses, of small or civil unmanned aircraft operations;
(3) provide guidelines to aid States, local, and Tribal governments in creating an environment that is hospitable to innovation and fosters the rapid integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace system; and
(4) aid States, local, and Tribal governments in adopting technologies, such as unmanned traffic management systems, that will enable notification to operators regarding reasonable time, manner, and place limitations on operations of civil and small unmanned aircraft that are local in nature.

(c) ANALYSIS – In crafting the policy framework and in prescribing any future regulations or standards related to civil unmanned aircraft systems, the Secretary of Transportation shall define the scope of the preemptive effect of any civil unmanned aircraft regulations or standards pursuant to section 40103 or 41713 of title 49, United States Code. Such regulations or standards shall be limited to the extent necessary to ensure the safety and efficiency of the national airspace system for interstate commerce, and shall preserve the legitimate interests of State, local, and Tribal governments, including-

(1) protecting public safety;
(2) protecting personal privacy;
(3) protecting property rights;
(4) managing land use; and
(5) restricting nuisances and noise pollution.

(d) LIMITATIONS. – In formulating and implementing the policy framework required pursuant to subsection (a) and any future regulations, policies or standards related to civil unmanned aircraft systems, the Secretary shall abide by and be guided by the following fundamental principles:

(1) Any limitation on small or civil unmanned aircraft should be consistent with maintaining the safe use of the navigable airspace and the legitimate interests of State, local, and Tribal governments.
(2) Innovation and competition are best served by a diverse and competitive small and civil unmanned aircraft systems industry.
(3) Any limitation on small or civil unmanned aircraft should not create an unreasonable burden on interstate or foreign commerce.
(4) The operation of small and civil unmanned aircraft systems that are local in nature have more in common with terrestrial transportation than traditional aviation.
(5) As it relates to the time, manner, and place of unmanned aircraft local operations, and the need to foster innovation, States, local, and Tribal governments uniquely possess the constitutional authority, the resources, and the competence to discern the sentiments of the people and to govern accordingly.
(6) Relying upon technology solutions, such as unmanned traffic management, provided by private industry, will effectively solve policy challenges.
(7) State, local and Tribal officials are best positioned to make judgements and issue dynamic limitations around events, including, fires, accidents and other first responder activity, public gatherings, community events, pedestrian thoroughfares, recreational activities, cultural activities, heritage sites, schools, parks and other inherently local events and locations, which may justify limiting unmanned aircraft activity that is local in nature while balancing the activities or events against the need for innovation.
(8) The economic and non-economic benefits, of small and civil unmanned aircraft operations may be best achieved by empowering the State, local, and Tribal governments to create a hospitable environment to welcome innovation.
(9) Innovation and competition in the unmanned aircraft industry are best served by enabling State, local, and Tribal governments to experiment with a variety of approaches to policies related to unmanned aircraft.
(10) The Department of Transportation shall, when making policy related to small or civil unmanned aircraft systems, recognize that problems that are merely common to the State, local, and Tribal governments will not justify Federal action because individual State, local and Tribal governments, acting individually or together, can effectively deal with such problems and may find and implement more innovation friendly policies than Federal agencies.
(11) The Department shall, when making policy related to small or civil unmanned aircraft systems, provide timely information and assistance to State, local, and Tribal governments that will ensure collaboration.

Section 4. PILOT PROGRAM ON FEDERAL PARTNERSHIPS

(a) IN GENERAL – Not later than 9 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation shall enter into agreements with not less than 20 and not more than 30 State, local, or Tribal governments to establish pilot programs under which the Secretary shall provide technical assistance to such governments in regulating the operation of small and civil unmanned aircraft systems, including through the use of the latest available technologies for unmanned traffic management, notice, authorization, and situational awareness with respect to reasonable time, manner, and place limitations and restrictions pursuant to section 3.

(b) SELECTION – In selecting among State, local and Tribal governments for purposes of establishing pilot programs under subsection (a), the Secretary shall seek to enter into agreements with –

(1) Governments that vary their size and intended approach to regulation of small and civil unmanned aircraft systems;
(2) Governments that demonstrate a willingness to partner with technology providers and small and civil unmanned aircraft operators; and
(3) At least 2 of each of the following: State governments, county governments, city governments, and Tribal Governments.

(c) UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS TRAFFIC MANAMAGEMENT SYSTEM. – The Secretary shall coordinate with the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to ensure that participants in pilot programs established under subsection (a) are consulted in the development of the unmanned aircraft systems traffic management system under Section 2208 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-190, 49 U.S.C. 40101 note) and the pilot program under section (b) of such section.

(d) REPORT REQUIRED. – Not later than 18 months after establishment of the pilot programs required by subsection (a), the Secretary shall coordinate with pilot program participants to submit to Congress, and make available to the public, a report identifying best practices for State, local, and Tribal governments to regulate the operation of small and civil unmanned aircraft systems and to collaborate with the Federal Aviation Administration with respect to the regulation of such systems.

Section 5. PRESERVATION

(a) RIGHTS TO PRIVACY. – In prescribing regulations or standards related to civil or small unmanned aircraft systems, the Secretary shall not authorize the operation of small or civil unmanned aircraft in airspace local in nature above property where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy without permission of the property owner.
(b) CAUSES OF ACTION, CLAIMS, AND REMEDIES –

(1) IN GENERAL. – Nothing in this section shall be construed to preempt, displace, or supplant any Federal, State, or Tribal common law rights or any Federal, State, or Tribal statute or common law right creating a remedy for civil relief, including those for civil damages, or a penalty for a criminal law.
(2) CAUSE OF ACTIONS UPHELD. – Nothing in this section shall preempt or preclude any cause of action for personal injury, wrongful death, property damage, inverse condemnation, trespass, nuisance or other injury based on negligence, strict liability, products liability, failure to warn, or any other legal theory of liability under any maritime law, or any Federal, State, or Tribal common law or statutory theory, except that no cause of action, claim or remedy may be made solely because of the transit of an unmanned aircraft through airspace local in nature over private property in the absence of proof that such transit substantially interfered with the owner or lessee’s use or enjoyment of the property or repeatedly transited the airspace local in nature above the owner’s property.

(c) PRIVATE AIRSPACE. – Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary shall not issue any rule or regulation that impedes or operates contrary to the authority of the State, local, or Tribal government to define private property rights as it applies to unmanned aircraft in the airspace above the property that is local in nature.
(d) RIGHTS TO OPERATE. – A State or local government may not unreasonably or substantially impede the ability of a civil unmanned aircraft, from reaching the navigable airspace. Unreasonable or substantial impeding of a civil unmanned aircraft reaching the navigable airspace includes —-

(1) Outright bans on overflights of the entirety of the lateral boundaries of a State or local government’s jurisdiction;
(2) Excessively large prohibitions on overflights of areas of local significance such that access to airspace is so impeded as to make a flight within the lateral boundaries of a State or local government’s jurisdiction nearly impossible; and
(3) A combination of restrictions intended to unreasonably impede or having the practical effect of unreasonably impeding the ability of a civil unmanned aircraft from reaching the navigable airspace.

(e) RIGHT OF WAY. – Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent an operator or pilot from operating a small or civil unmanned aircraft over their own property, right of way, easement, lands, or waters.

SECTION 6 STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.

(a) JUDICIAL REVIEW. – An action taken by the Secretary of Transportation under any of sections 3-5 is subject to judicial review as provided under section 46110 of title 49, United States Code.
(b) CIVIL AND CRIMINAL JURISDICTION. – Nothing in this Act (including the amendments made by this Act) may be construed to diminish or expand the civil or criminal jurisdiction of –

(1) Any Tribal Government relative to any State or local government; or
(2) Any State or local government relative to any Tribal Government.

(c) LIMITATION. – Nothing in this Act (including the amendments made by this Act) may be construed to –

(1) Affect manned aircraft operations or the authority of the Federal Aviation Authority (in this section referred to as “FAA”) with respect to manned aviation;
(2) Affect the right of the FAA to take emergency action, including the right to issue temporary flight restrictions;
(3) Affect the right of the FAA to pursue enforcement action against unsafe aircraft operators; and
(4) Affect the right of first responders to access airspace in the event of an emergency.


Jonathan Rupprecht

Mr. Rupprecht is an aviation attorney who focuses on drones. Read more about his background as a commercial pilot, flight instructor, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University grad, and legal author. He has had media appearances on Forbes, Newsweek, Politico, NPR, Marketwatch, The Independent, Motherboard, and other sources. Feel free to send Jonathan a message here.

Drone Federalism Act of 2017 (Senate Bill 1272)

 

Quick Summary of Important Facts of the Drone Federalism Act of 2017:

On May 25, Senator Feinstein introduced into the U.S. Senate the bill below. It is labeled Senate Bill 1272. It has been referred to the Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Track the current progress of the bill by clicking here.

The bill modifies Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to require those model aircraft to have the permission of the land owner if they are within 200ft above ground level or 200ft above the structure, whichever is higher.

Any future rulemakings the FAA will do (like over people, night, or extended line of sight of operations) will have to define the preemptive effect of these laws. Additionally,  the FAA “shall ensure that the authority of a State, local, or tribal government to issue reasonable restrictions on the time, manner, and place of operation of a civil unmanned aircraft system that is operated below 200 feet above ground level or within 200 feet of a structure is not preempted.”

The FAA will enter into agreements with no more than 10 State, local, or tribal governments to provide technical assistance to these participants regarding regulating drones and these participants in the pilot program are going to be consulted with by NASA.

This bill does NOT affect preemption for manned aircraft.

 

Problems with the Drone Federalism Act of 2017:

 

Who Supports It:

If you are interested in voicing your opinion to your elected official, you can find their contact information here.

 

Actual Text of the Drone Federalism Act with My Emphasis in Bold

 

SECTION 1.  SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Drone Federalism Act of 2017’’.

 

SEC. 2. PRESERVATION OF STATE, LOCAL, AND TRIBAL AUTHORITIES WITH RESPECT TO UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS.

(a) SCOPE OF PREEMPTION FOR CIVIL UNMANNED AIRCRAFT REGULATIONS.—In prescribing regulations or standards related to civil unmanned aircraft systems, the Administrator shall—

(1) define the scope of the preemptive effect of such regulations or standards pursuant to section 40103 or 41713 of title 49, United States Code, which shall be limited to the extent necessary to ensure the safety and efficiency of the national airspace system for interstate commerce; and

(2) preserve, to the greatest extent practicable, legitimate interests of State, local, and tribal governments, including—

(A) protecting public safety;

(B) protecting personal privacy;

(C) protecting property rights;

(D) managing land use; and

(E) restricting nuisances and noise pollution.

(b) RESERVED POWERS.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—In prescribing regulations or standards related to civil unmanned aircraft systems, the Administrator shall ensure that the authority of a State, local, or tribal government to issue reasonable restrictions on the time, manner, and place of operation of a civil unmanned aircraft system that is operated below 200 feet above ground level or within 200 feet of a structure is not preempted.

(2) REASONABLE RESTRICTIONS.—For purposes of paragraph (1), reasonable restrictions on the time, manner, and place of operation of a civil unmanned aircraft system include the following:

(A) Limitations on speed.

(B) Prohibitions or limitations on operations in the vicinity of schools, parks, roadways, bridges, or other public or private property.

(C) Restrictions on operations at certain times of the day or week or on specific occasions such as during parades or sporting events.

(D) Prohibitions on operations while the operator is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

(E) Prohibitions on careless or reckless operations.

(F) Other prohibitions that protect public safety, personal privacy, or property rights, or that manage land use or restrict noise pollution.

 

SEC. 3. PRESERVATION OF PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS.

(a) AFFIRMATION OF APPLICABILITY OF CONSTITUTIONAL TAKINGS CLAUSE TO FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION  REGULATIONS.—In prescribing regulations or standards related to civil unmanned aircraft systems, the Administrator shall not authorize the operation of a civil unmanned aircraft in the immediate reaches of the airspace above property without permission of the property owner.

(b) AFFIRMATION OF APPLICABILITY OF CONSTITUTIONAL TAKINGS CLAUSE ABSENT FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION REGULATIONS.—Section 336(a) of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–95; 49 U.S.C. 40101 note) is amended—

(1) in paragraph (4), by striking ‘‘; and’’ and inserting a semicolon;

(2) in paragraph (5), by striking the period at the end and inserting ‘‘; and’’; and

(3) by adding at the end the following: ‘‘(6) when flown in the immediate reaches of the airspace above property (as defined in section 3(c) of the Drone Federalism Act of 2017), the operator has the permission of the property owner.’’. (c) DEFINITION.—In this section, the term ‘‘immediate reaches of the airspace above property’’, with respect to the operation of a civil unmanned aircraft system, includes—

(1) any area within 200 feet above the ground level of the property;

(2) any area within 200 feet above any structure on the property; and

(3) any area where operation of the aircraft system could interfere with the enjoyment or use of the property.

SEC. 4. PILOT PROGRAM ON FEDERAL PARTNERSHIPS.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall enter into agreements with not more than 10 State, local, or tribal governments to establish pilot programs under which—

(1) the Administrator shall provide technical assistance to such governments in regulating the operation of civil unmanned aircraft systems, including through the use of the latest available technologies; and

(2) the Administrator and such governments shall coordinate efforts with respect to the enforcement of regulations relating to the operation of civil unmanned aircraft systems.

(b) SELECTION.—In selecting among State, local, and tribal governments for purposes of establishing pilot programs under subsection (a), the Administrator shall seek to enter into agreements with—

(1) governments that vary in their size and intended approach to regulation of civil unmanned aircraft systems; and

(2) not less than one State government, not less than one county government, not less than one city government, and not less than one tribal government.

(c) UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT SYSTEM.—The Administrator shall coordinate with Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to ensure that participants in pilot programs established under subsection (a) are consulted in the development of the unmanned aircraft systems traffic management system under subsection (a) section 2208 of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 (Public Law 114–190; 49 U.S.C. 40101 note) and the pilot program under subsection (b) of that section.

(d) REPORT REQUIRED.—Not later than 2 years after establishing the pilot programs required by subsection (a), the Administrator shall submit to Congress, and make available to the public, a report identifying best practices for State, local, and tribal governments to regulate the operation of civil unmanned aircraft systems and to collaborate with the Federal Aviation Administration with respect to the regulation of such systems.

 

SEC. 5. RULE OF CONSTRUCTION.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed—

(1) to diminish or expand the preemptive effect of the authority of the Federal Aviation Administration with respect to manned aviation; or

(2) to affect the civil or criminal jurisdiction of—

(A) any Indian tribe relative to any State or local government; or

(B) any State or local government relative to any Indian tribe.

 

SEC. 6. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:

(1) ADMINISTRATOR.—The term ‘‘Administrator’’ means the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

(2) CIVIL.—The term ‘‘civil’’, with respect to an unmanned aircraft system, means that the unmanned aircraft is not a public aircraft (as defined in section 40102 of title 49, United States Code).

(3) INDIAN TRIBE.—The term ‘‘Indian tribe’’ has the meaning given that term in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 5304).

(4) LOCAL GOVERNMENT.—The term ‘‘local’’, with respect to a government, means the government of a subdivision of a State.

(5) STATE.—The term ‘‘State’’ means each of the several States, the District of Columbia, and the territories and possessions of the United States.

(6) TRIBAL GOVERNMENT.—The term ‘‘tribal’’, with respect to a government, means the governing body of an Indian tribe.

(7) UNMANNED AIRCRAFT; UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEM.—The terms ‘‘unmanned aircraft’’ and ‘‘unmanned aircraft system’’ have the meanings given those terms in section 331 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–95; 49 U.S.C. 40101 note).