Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The operational capabilities of unmanned aircraft systems (aka UAS or drones) require the resolution of numerous legal and policy challenges, from bridging regulatory gaps currently impeding the flight of civil systems to addressing privacy and civil liberties concerns. While "UAS law" is not a new paradigm, it is emerging and evolving with UAS technology; like UAS, it is a hybrid of traditional and cutting-edge thinking, applied so as to achieve operational and business goals. Crowell & Moring offers a unique combination a real world UAS experience and full-service aviation regulatory knowledge, accustomed to supporting dynamic aviation and aerospace clients, as well as the innovative multi-disciplinary capabilities necessary to address the full spectrum of UAS-related issues. For example, in the absence of comprehensive privacy laws to address rapidly advancing UAS technology, the industry must contend with a patchwork of federal and state laws on the collection, storage, and retention of data. Our lawyers are accustomed to teaming on these issues and can help create an integrated strategy.       

Representative Engagements include:

  • Advising UAS operators across a range of industries, including chemical, television/film production, natural resources, and retail, on UAS interim operating authorities under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, as well as alternative means to enable the testing and operation of UAS prior to the completion of formal FAA rulemaking processes.
  • Evaluating the regulatory, liability, and privacy considerations relating to the prospective acquisition of a UAS manufacturer.
  • Advising a manufacturer on certification standards applicable the manufacture and production of UAS as well as export control requirements relating to international operations.
  • Counseling major advertising concerns in connection with FAA regulations and policies applicable to the use of UAS in nationally-televised product launch campaigns.
  • Advising operators and manufacturers on the use of the six FAA-selected UAS test sites and the test sites’ role in FAA's airworthiness and operating certification processes.
  • Preparing an industry trade association’s comments on model state UAS privacy legislation proposed by the Aerospace States Association, the Council of State Governments, and the National Conference of State Legislatures.