Without taking a position regarding the merits of any of the petitions for exemption that seven aerial photo and video production companies submitted to the FAA last month, Husch Blackwell LLP voiced its support for the exemption process to permit commercial operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). In response to the FAA’s request for comment, Husch Blackwell noted in its submission (submitted by Co-Chairs of the firm’s UAS team Tom Gemmell and David Agee, with assistance by Amanda Tummons) to the FAA’s Notice that while there are legitimate concerns regarding the use of UAS, the technology is here to stay and it should be allowed when commercial businesses can demonstrate parameters to ensure safe operations.
Our firm represents various entities across a wide range of industries, such as agriculture, energy, construction, real estate, and many others. As the technology is advancing, these industries are finding applications for UAS to allow them to more efficiently and more safely conduct their operations. We support a process, such as petitions for exemption, that would allow commercial businesses to take advantage of technology afforded by UAS when it can be demonstrated that the proposed application of UAS will be operated in a safe manner.
It is of the utmost importance to everyone that all aircraft (manned and unmanned) operate in a manner that does not compromise the safety of the national airspace system (NAS). If a commercial business is able to show that a proposed use of UAS will not compromise the safety of the NAS, or persons or property on the ground, then it would seem acceptable to allow such operations. Granting petitions for exemption under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 permit the FAA to use the tools that it currently has at its disposal to allow safe commercial UAS operations and is consistent with Congress’ mandate that the FAA move forward with UAS integration before proposing a small UAS rule.