February 24, 2020

February 24, 2020

Subscribe to Latest Legal News and Analysis

FAA Convenes Aviation Rulemaking Committee to Consider Performance Standards, Requirements for Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has convened an Aviation Rulemaking Committee to consider and provide recommendations on a regulatory plan to allow certain unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to operate and fly over people who are not involved in a particular UAS flight mission.

The committee, which is comprised of members of the aviation community, industry representatives, manufacturers, researchers, and academics, is meeting throughout the month of March to develop performance-based standards for classifying certain UAS (previously described as micro UAS weighing less than 4.4 pounds) to allow for such flights to occur throughout regulated airspace in the United States. The committee has been tasked to consider issues such as “current and past research on human injury thresholds, hazard and risk assessment methodologies, and acceptable levels of risk to persons not directly participating in the operation.”

In addition to developing performance-based standards (rather than focusing solely on weight and speed) for classification and operation of certain UAS, in connection with flying over people not affiliated with the UAS operator, the committee is considering manufacturer compliance with any new regulations that are promulgated as well as proposing specific operational provisions to be followed by certain UAS operators. As soon as the FAA receives the committee’s report and recommendations, which are due by April 1, it will proceed with drafting a rulemaking proposal.

In commenting on the establishment of the new committee, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said “the Department continues to be bullish on new technology…We recognize the significant industry interest in expanding commercial access to the National Airspace System. The short deadline reinforces our commitment to a flexible regulatory approach that can accommodate innovation while maintaining today’s high levels of safety.”



About this Author

Connie Lahn, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Minneapolis, Corporate and Litigation Law Attorney

Connie A. Lahn is the managing partner of the Minneapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg. She is a member of the Finance, Insolvency and Restructuring Department and co-chairs the Asset Revitalization Practice Group. Ms. Lahn is also the co-chair of the firm’s Special Servicer Team. She also serves on the firm's diversity and inclusion committee. Ms. Lahn focuses her practice on bankruptcy law, workouts, equipment leasing issues, foreclosures, real estate remedies, commercial mortgage-backed securities defaults, and related commercial litigation. Additionally, she...

Clifford G. Maine, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Grand Rapids, Corporate Law Attorney

Clifford G. Maine is chairman of the firm’s Aviation Law Group. Mr. Maine's practice encompasses a wide variety of aviation law practice areas. He serves as general counsel to numerous aviation organizations, including the Southwest Michigan Regional Airport Authority.

Mr. Maine’s aviation clients include some of the largest corporate flight departments in the world. He has structured numerous aviation transactions, including domestic and foreign-based aircraft purchase and sale transactions, like-kind exchanges, timeshare agreements, interchange agreements, joint and fractional ownership agreements, personal and executive use policies, FAA registrations, Capetown International Registry, and aircraft leasing transactions. Mr. Maine also provides legal counsel on tax-related aviation issues including federal excise tax planning, state sales and use tax planning, and depreciation planning.

In addition to his transactional practice, Mr. Maine regularly represents clients in complex aviation lawsuits and frequently advises on aviation insurance coverage matters, warranty matters, ongoing service requirements, and regulatory requirements.

He is a founding member and Chair of the Tax Committee of the National Business Aircraft Association and serves on the Board of Directors of the Michigan Business Aircraft Association. Mr. Maine also serves on the State Bar of Michigan Aviation Section (a section of the bar in which he acted as a founding member and past chairperson).

Kenneth D. Suzan, Barnes Thornburg Law Firm, Minneapolis, Intellectual Property and Litigation Law Attorney
Of Counsel

Kenneth D. Suzan is of counsel in Barnes & Thornburg LLP's Minneapolis, Minnesota office and is a member of the firm's Intellectual Property Department.

Mr. Suzan has experience in the areas of trademark law, copyright law, Internet law, social media law, domain names, and service mark matters. He has counseled his clients on a variety of issues ranging from the inception of a trademark to ultimate registration, licensing and enforcement. Mr. Suzan counsels and assists wearable technology companies to protect brand names through trademark,...