The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure heard testimony from U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg this week on the Biden Administration’s priorities and plans for national transportation infrastructure.

Although Secretary Buttigieg’s testimony did not provide details specifically about unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones), Secretary Buttigieg comes to the DOT with a

In light of the rise in use of drones in the national airspace, there has been some confusion regarding the Federal Aviation  Administration’s (FAA) authority over navigable airspace and federal preemption for state and local drone laws. In response, the FAA released a statement regarding federal versus local drone rulemaking authority. In that statement, the

In the last few weeks, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization bills have made their way around both houses of Congress, which will allow funding to the FAA to continue beyond Fall 2017. These bills contain lengthy and significant language that could greatly affect commercial and hobbyist drone operations in the U.S. Below is a summary of the main provisions in the House’s bill:

  • UAS Traffic Management (UTM) System: Directs the FAA to initiate rulemaking within 18 months to establish procedures for issuing air navigation facility certificates to operators of low-altitude UTM systems.
  • Risk-Based Permitting Process: Establishes a risk-based permitting process to authorize UAS operations that meet certain safety standards.
  • Small UAS Air Carrier Certificate: Establishes an air carrier certificate for operators of small UAS for package delivery.
  • Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Operations at FAA Test Sites: Extends the FAA test site program and directs the FAA to permit BVLOS UAS flights if the UAS is equipped with sense-and-avoid technology at test sites.
  • UAS Privacy Review: Requires a Department of Transportation (DOT) study on the privacy implications of UAS operations.
  • UAS Registration: Directs the DOT to assess the FAA’s small UAS registration system and requires FAA to develop and track metrics and effectiveness of the system.
  • Role of State and Local Governments: Directs the DOT to study the potential roles of state and local governments in the regulation of low-altitude small UAS operations.
  • Pay-to-Play: Requires Comptroller General to study appropriate fee mechanisms to recover the costs of regulation and oversight of UAS.


Continue Reading FAA Reauthorization Bill: What does it mean for the UAS legal landscape?