Earlier this month, Canada’s transport minister announced that a drone had collided with a commercial aircraft, the first confirmed collision of its kind in North America. Thankfully, the aircraft sustained only minor damage and was able to land safely. But this recent incident, which many commentators believed was inevitable given the proliferation of consumer and commercial drones, highlights the potential risks associated with drone operations. Continue Reading Are Your Drone Operations Covered by Insurance?

Retailers are increasingly relying on drones to further automate delivery systems and inventory management, among many other uses. The Federal Aviation Administration recently predicted that nearly 4 million drones will be operating in the U.S. by the year 2021.

Hunton & Williams Insurance Coverage attorneys Syed Ahmad and Geoffrey Fehling, with co-author Robert Hopson of Lockton Companies, recently published an article in Unmanned Aerial Online providing an overview of available insurance coverage for commercial drones and several coverage issues to consider when buying insurance for drone operations.

Read the full article.

Many online retailers are exploring how to use drones to quickly deliver online orders to customers. In June 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) issued a final rule permitting flights by commercial drones under certain conditions, including the drone and its cargo weigh less than 55 pounds and the drone stays within sight of the pilot. While the rule was a welcome step forward for the commercial drone industry, the operational restrictions prohibited drones to fly over any populated areas due to safety concerns, essentially forbidding commercial drones in most urban areas. Continue Reading Retailers Await New Drone Regulations Amid Trump Administration Regulation Freeze

After a February 2015 proposed rulemaking (the “NPRM”) faced a firestorm of comments, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) has determined “that further engagement with industry and stakeholders is needed” before any attempt is made to finalize regulations for very small unmanned aircraft systems, also known as “Micro UAS.” In response, the FAA chartered the Micro UAS Aviation Rulemaking Committee (“ARC”) to continue the review process and prepare recommendations to the FAA for future rulemakings. As originally conceived by the NPRM, Micro UAS are drones weighing less than 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) that are constructed of malleable materials that will break, bend or “yield on impact so as to present a minimal hazard to any person or object.” The Micro UAS ARC was formed amidst pressure from drone manufacturers and commercial users to appropriately balance safety and privacy concerns with wider drone use.

Continue Reading FAA Looking to Industry for Input on Easing Small Commercial Drone Restrictions

This month, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (“RILA”) submitted comments to the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) opposing a point-of-sale registration requirement for recreational drones. While the trade association generally supports the registration of drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems, RILA called the point-of-sale registration process “costly, inefficient, and difficult to implement” while warning of potential data privacy concerns for consumers.

Continue Reading Retail Industry Group Opposes Point-of-Sale Registration for Drones

On Monday, October 19, US Transportation Secretary Anthony R. Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta announced the formation of a task force charged with developing recommendations for a registration system for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (the “Task Force”). The Task Force will be directed to deliver its report by November 20. In connection with the announcement, the secretary and the administrator also issued a Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UAS (the “CRFI”), which was published in the Federal Register on Thursday, October 22. Through the CRFI, the agencies seek, for the first time, to impose the aircraft registration requirement on “model aircraft,” including recreational UAS, effective immediately, while also soliciting comments from industry and the public on the nature and parameters of the UAS registration process. Comments must be submitted by November 6 in order to be considered by the Task Force.

Continue Reading Mission Impossible? UAS Registration Recommendations in 30 Days