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Federal Aviation Administration Releases Unmanned Aircraft Systems Rules

On Feb. 15, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its long-awaited notice of proposed rules with respect to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The proposed rules replace the current almost-universal ban on flying UAS for commercial purposes with a protocol for authorizing operations for commercial flights of small UAS weighing up to 55 pounds. The regulations provide that operations must be in the daylight and require visual-line-of-sight operations.

An operator would need to be at least 17 years old, pass a test and obtain an FAA UAS operator certificate. The test would need to be taken every 24 months.

The UAS operator: must always maintain a visual; must maneuver away from manned aircraft; must discontinue operations it if poses a threat to other aircraft, persons, or property; must not fly over people; and all weather conditions and flight risks must be assessed. Further, operations in airport flight paths and restricted airspace is prohibited.

Additionally, flights are limited to 500 feet altitude and no faster than 100 mph.

Before operations, an operator is required to perform preflight inspections to make sure that communications between the UAS and the control is working. However, the UAS will not have to comply with current agency airworthiness standards.

The current rules remain in place until the FAA implements the final rule. The proposed rules are open for comment. A summary of the proposed rules can be found here.

© 2020 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume V, Number 47


About this Author

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,...

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 advises on UAV matters. Ms. Lahn has a national practice representing Fortune 500 clients across the country. She has appeared in cases such as Hostess Brands, Inc.; Petters Company, Inc.; Polaroid Corporation; Delta Air Lines, Inc.; Lyman Lumber Company; and Northwest Airlines.

She represents financial institutions, creditors, and equipment lessors in major restructuring cases. Ms. Lahn considers her relationship with clients on workouts and defaults as that of a trusted business partner who understands the business objectives and the sensitivities of such matters. She has represented a number of national clients with workouts and foreclosures of their major loan portfolios.

Ms. Lahn also represents unsecured creditors’ committees and liquidatory trusts. She represented the creditors committee in one of the largest Ponzi scheme cases in the nation. In addition, she represents the creditors committee in one of the nation’s oldest and largest lumber cases. Ms. Lahn also has bankruptcy appellate experience having participated in numerous bankruptcy appeals on behalf of clients, including preparing numerous amicus briefs.

Ms. Lahn has been active in every major aviation bankruptcy. This has given her an intimate understanding of the aviation industry and led her to form the firm's UAV Practice Group. She is a frequent presenter on UAV issues and regularly advises clients on UAV issues, privacy and procedural issues.

Prior to joining Barnes & Thornburg, Ms. Lahn was a shareholder and chair of the Bankruptcy & Insolvency Group at Fafinski Mark & Johnson, P.A., in Minneapolis. In addition, she previously served as a law clerk for the Honorable Dennis D. O’Brien, Chief Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota.

Ms. Lahn has been recognized on the Minnesota Super Lawyers list every year since 2007 and was named on the Top 50 Women Lawyers in the 2013-2016 editions. Similarly, she was named one of Minnesota's Top 100 Women Attorneys in both 2008 and 2009 by Super Lawyers. In the 2018 edition of The Best Lawyers in America, Ms. Lahn was recognized for her work in bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency reorganization law.