Drone Lawyers / Drone Flight Applications
Drone Lawyers / Drone Flight Applications
As one of the few firms that are familiar with the area of FAA exemptions, applications, regulations, and laws regarding Drones, Miller and Associates can advise in applying for, and receiving, FAA Drone Flight Exception Applications and advising on Drone Flight issues under the law.
A private pilot, attorney Robert Miller has taken a special interest in the new drone laws issued by the FAA and has advised others on the application process for drone permits to fly within the guidelines proffered by the FAA.
The 2013 FAA UAS Roadmap attempted to answer certain questions about the growing popularity of unmanned drones and is used to describe the technical and regulatory challenges for UAS use in national airspace. More stringent licensing requirements by the FAA are coming for manned drones and for drones above 55 pounds. For now, the FAA allows applications on a case by case basis for drone flights that otherwise would not be allowed by the FAA’s UAS roadmap.
UAS is the FAA terminology for “Unmanned Aircraft System”, commonly called a drone, or sometimes called a UAV.
Penalties for Drone Flights not Unauthorized By The FAA
What type of penalties might the FAA dole out?
Answer: The FAA does not impose criminal penalties themselves, but might recommend a case to the US Attorney’s office for criminal filing. Under the Code of Federal Regulations, section 13.23, the following are possible in regards to criminal penalties:
§ 13.23 Criminal penalties.
(a) Sections 902 and 1203 of the Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (49 U.S.C.1472 and 1523) provide criminal penalties for any person who knowingly and willfully violates specified provisions of that Act or any regulation or order issued under those provisions. Section 110(b) of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (49 U.S.C. 1809(b)) provides for a criminal penalty of a fine of not more than $25,000, imprisonment for not more than five years, or both, for any person who willfully violates a provision of that Act or a regulation or order issued under it.
However, as mentioned, the FAA does impose civil penalties. There is a process of reviewing any civil penalties before imposition, to comply with due process requirements. Prior to proposing a civil penalty action, the FAA conducts multiple reviews of the evidence to ensure it supports the alleged violations, and that the proposed sanction is appropriate.
These reviews are conducted in the originating investigating office, the regional divisions, and the Office of the Regional Counsel. Certain cases may undergo an additional review by FAA Headquarters.
A civil penalty is determined after consulting the Enforcement Sanction Guidance Table (Appendix 4) in FAA Order 2150.3A, “Compliance and Enforcement Program,” and by considering the following factors unique to each case:
• The degree of safety hazard;
• The inadvertent or deliberate nature of the violation;
• The alleged violator’s past violation history;
• The alleged violator’s level of experience;
• The alleged violator’s attitude toward compliance;
• The private, public or commercial nature of the activity;
• The alleged violator’s ability to absorb the sanction;
• Any demonstrated lack of qualifications of the certificate holder.
The facts bearing on these points vary from case to case, and an in-depth review is required. Fines are distinguished between hazardous materials and non-hazardous materials, however.
You may find the FAA Penalty Guidelines for Hazardous Materials Cases in April 21, 1999, issue of the Federal Register and adjusted for inflation on March 13, 2002, as published in the Federal Register, Vol 67, No. 68, pages 6364 to 6367.
The Enforcement Sanction Guidance Table for Non-Haz Mat cases is found in DOT/FAA Order 2150.3A, Appendix 4. You may do a search for this document at www.faa.gov.
How can the FAA Law on Drones Change?
The FAA can be pressured through a FAA petition for a drone exemption. Under the law, you “may petition the Administrator to issue, amend, or repeal a rule. Any person may also request a temporary or permanent exemption from any rule issued by the FAA.”
There are certain things that must be included in a petition for an exemption, which is listed here: FAA Petition Requirements.
Note that many exemptions for drones have been granted recently, including over 247 granted overall, and at a rate of about 30 per month average. The FAA says that they have streamlined the process for drone approval to speed up approvals.
Under the US Constitution, government agencies are to hold policies related to health, safety and welfare of citizens to a higher standard, which might mandate that the health of citizens (in lives saved) might outweigh the public safety concerns.
If you need an attorney someone to advise you, or help with your exemption or flight application for a drone or UAV or UAS, contact our firm. We can help you and keep your drones flying.