Reports indicate that the Senate version of the FAA Reauthorization Act contain language that would have FAA regulations pertaining to UAS preempt all state regulations. Specifically:
FAA regulations regarding the “design, manufacture, testing, licensing, registration, certification, operation, or maintenance of an unmanned aircraft system, including airspace, altitude, flight paths, equipment or technology requirements, purpose of operations, and pilot, operator, and observer qualifications, training, and certification” would preempt state law. The House version doesn’t contain this language and the bills still need to be conferenced and reconciled. I don’t believe the Commerce Clause, the authority for the FAA’s regulation of air space, allows for field preemption and will be discussing this topic in an upcoming law school lecture. The states still have police powers that they should be allowed to exert – to an extent.
Another alleged sighting by a commercial airliner, this time Aer Lingus at an altitude of 2,300 metres – incredibly high for most UAS. In regard to that recent “drone strike” against a British Airways plane, a new report states it could have just been a plastic bag. Who knows what to believe. I would questions alleged drone sightings, but remain vigilant about ensuring UAS users fly safely.
Finally, in exciting news, the Navy announced that the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) will host the first UAS Command Center, as part of the phased implementation of the MQ-XX program. In this role, UAS will start to take over from the F/A-18 in the roles of refueling and some ISR. They will also start to equip submarines with the Aerovironment Blackwing!