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Drone Rules Not Expected Any Time Soon

With more than three times as many drones operating in the U.S. than manned aircraft, commercial applications of the unmanned aircraft – from package deliveries to video applications – still await airborne-identification rules from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

And, according to a recent story in The Wall Street Journal, those regulations may not be coming as quickly as once expected. In “Rule Delay Slows Drone Industry,” Nov. 23, 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal authorities expect rules to come some time in 2022, instead of next spring.

Although FAA officials thought they had regulations that would work to keep people safe as well as other aircraft, Federal Bureau of Investigation senior officials reportedly balked at the proposed safeguards and demanded tougher requirements in order to identify potential terrorists.

The story reports that “industry arguments continue to simmer over whether the best approach is to rely on sensors embedded in drones or to develop a hybrid, low-altitude traffic-control system that includes ground-based elements.”  In other words, it was compared to an “electronic license plate” in the air.

Although federal law under 18 U.S.C. 32 categorically prohibits destruction or interference with any aircraft, which includes a drone, countermeasures may be justified using defense of property, self-defense or necessity, according to the Air & Transportation Law Reporter. “Any such counter [unmanned aircraft system] UAS actions must be reasonable in response to the threat level for a justification to be reasonably defensible,” the publication writes in its November, 2018 issue.  (“Threatening Drones,” by Joseph J. Vacek)

To learn more about drones and liability in operating one, read Bob Clifford’s column that appeared in the Chicago Lawyer.