While the rest of us were packing our suitcases for a fine Memorial Day Weekend getaway, a handful of U.S. Senators introduced a bill titled The Drone Federalism Act of 2017. If passed, this bill will change the regulatory landscape regarding commercial and recreational drone use by creating a program by which the Feds will work with States and Local Governments to properly regulate and manage the use of drones at a more local level. This essentially removes a bulk of the FAA's current regulatory power and gives it to the states and local municipalities nationwide. FAA supporters don't fret! The FAA will retain its preemptory power to "the extent necessary to ensure the safety and efficiency of the national airspace system for interstate commerce." #silverlining.
Is this a good idea or a bad idea?
Depends who you ask. The bipartisan group of Senators who introduced this bill thinks its a good idea and a way to create governmental cooperation between the federal government and state/local governments. There is also evidence that local regulation of drones is already happening with an estimated 135 local governments and 31 states with their own sets of drone laws and regs. However, if you are a commercial drone user that travels between states and even local municipalities, your liability just went way up since you will now have to know (and abide by) FAA rules, state rules, and local rules - all of which may vary slightly. That Coffee-&-Learn sounds real nice right about now, doesn't it?!
What about the Recreational Drones?
Interesting topic. Last week the D.C. Circuit District Court held that the FAA's drone registration program is unlawful as it applies to recreational drones. Section 336 of the FAA's Modernization and Reform Act's Special Rule for Model Aircraft states that the FAA cannot "promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft." Opps. Looks like this preemption topic is ripe for discussion AND at least recreational drones may get a break from the registration rules.
REMINDER: North Carolina already has drone laws!
This is your friendly reminder that NC has its own body of drone laws. We've already blogged about them but here and here are some refreshers. If you want an in-person refresher, we've got the perfect FREE idea for you!
We also have a Meetup for drone users and enthusiasts! Join today!