Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new fact sheet outlining state and local regulations related to the operation of unmanned aircraft systems (better known as drones). The FAA said in its fact sheet, “Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are aircrafts subject to regulation by the FAA to ensure safety of flight, and safety of people and property on the ground. States and local jurisdictions are increasingly exploring regulation of UAS or proceeding to enact legislation relating to UAS operations.” Because of this increase in drone regulation by state and local governments, the FAA’s fact sheet provides “basic information about the federal regulatory framework for use by states and localities when considering laws affecting UAS,” and cautions that “[s]tate and local restrictions affecting UAS operations should be consistent with the extensive federal statutory and regulatory framework pertaining to control of the airspace, flight management and efficiency, air traffic control, aviation safety, navigational facilities, and the regulation of aircraft noise at its source.”
The fact sheet provides a list of examples of drone laws that are likely to fall under the state and local government authority umbrella: use of drones by police and the necessity of obtaining warrants prior to any police surveillance efforts, prohibition on the use of drones for voyeurism, exclusions on the use of drones for hunting or fishing, and prohibitions on attaching firearms or other types of weapons to a drone. We will likely see increased state and local regulation this coming year until the FAA sets clearer standards across the board.