unmanned aerial systems

With the Federal Aviation Administration convening a task force to require the registration of most drones, I thought that it was worth taking another look at the current rules regulating the use of by media companies of what are more officially called unmanned aerial systems (“UAS”) and unmanned aerial vehicles (commonly called “drones”). We offered some discussion of the FAA process to license drone for commercial use a few months ago, here. Rachel Wolkowitz (see her bio here), one of the attorneys following these issues for our law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP in Washington, DC, offers these broad observations on how drones can be used for newsgathering under current FAA rules, and offers some cautions for both current and future use.

The use of drones presents great opportunity, and potential risk, for newscasters. Drones can be cheaper to fly than helicopters, and potentially can get closer to the action. On the other hand, drone technology is still nascent and safer operating technologies – e.g. sense-and-avoid systems that use internal systems to find and avoid hazards – are still being developed. Federal, state, and local governments are struggling with the potential safety and privacy implications that follow from putting thousands of drones in the sky for a variety of uses.  They are creating a patchwork of laws, rules, and policies that have the potential to trigger liability for broadcasters.  Below, we provide a high-level discussion of some key legal considerations for operating drones for news gathering.
Continue Reading Using Drones for TV News – What are the Legal Issues?