In response to the growing phenomenon of domestic drones and legal/regulatory issues surrounding their use, the Florida-based international law firm of Diaz Reus announces the launch of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) practice. Headed by partner Brant Hadaway, whose aviation law background includes representation of American aircraft manufacturer Cessna, the new group will assist clients with navigating the regulatory and legal hurdles associated with this emerging technology.
“Apart from military use, drones, officially known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems, have only recently emerged as engines for domestic investment and economic growth,” said Hadaway, who writes about UAS law and regulation at DroneLaw.Com. “But the regulatory regime for commercial UAS operations has lagged behind the technology, creating a challenging and often confusing environment for businesses.”
While the FAA is expected to release a set of proposed rules specifically for small UAS (sUAS) by the end of December 2014, those rules will be subject to a lengthy comment period before they can become law. “Further, proposed rules for large UAS are still years away,” said Hadaway.
Reports suggest that the FAA’s proposed sUAS rules for commercial operators will include onerous licensing requirements on commercial operators who use small drones for tasks such as aerial real estate photography and surveying farm crops. Although the FAA does allow commercial operators to apply for exemptions, getting those applications reviewed and approved has proven time-consuming, and the expense creates high entry-barriers to individual operators. “Not even hobbyists are safe,” Hadaway noted. “That drone under the Christmas tree could, in theory, land you a substantial fine if you operate it in a manner that, in the opinion of the FAA, threatens life or property.”
Diaz Reus hopes to assist industry stakeholders with contributing possible solutions that would satisfy regulatory concerns while allowing greater room for innovation. “Exploring solutions is one of the reasons why I started writing DroneLaw.Com,” said Hadaway.
“In the meantime, the UAS industry will need legal guidance on how to target investment decisions in a way that both complies with existing regulations (such as they are) and anticipates the future regulatory environment,” said Michael Diaz, Jr., Diaz Reus global managing partner.
And the FAA will not be the only entity involved. Rules governing privacy, insurance, defense of person and property, and products liability are going to have to be taken up by state legislatures and state courts. “Now is the time to start anticipating what those rules are likely to be,” said Diaz. “That’s why we established our practice. That’s where we can add value.”
About Diaz Reus
Diaz, Reus & Targ, LLP (Diaz Reus) is a full-service international law firm offering comprehensive legal services to U.S.-based and international clients around the world. The firm’s global reach extends from its Miami, Fla., headquarters to its international offices strategically located in dynamic markets throughout Latin America, the Middle East, and in Asia and Europe. For more information, visit www.diazreus.com.
Drone Practice Contact: Brant Hadaway
Diaz Reus & Targ LLP
100 S.E. Second Street, Suite 3400
Miami, FL 33131