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State Created Drone Law Ruled Illegal

September 30, 2017

 

Singer vs. City of Newton, a recent court ruling in Massachusetts has made it illegal to enact a local drone ordinance that would conflict with the Federal Aviation Administrations Part 107 (the federal regulation that dictates safe operation of a commercially operated drones).  This is a pivotal ruling that is likely to be the first of many that will take drone legislation power away from States and call on the FAA to step up and address the chief complaint of city's -- concern for privacy.

 

In brief summary, the court ruling outlines that local municipalities cannot issue an ordinance that conflicts with FAA regulations for Part 107 Drone Usage.  Primarily, the ruling knocks down a State issued  registration fee for drones and enforcing local airspace restrictions.  This ruling currently only effects Massachusetts, meaning there is no Federal Precedence that requires other State courts to follow this ruling. However, this ruling may sway how courts in other states may address this issue.

 

For a more detailed explanation of the recent court ruling: https://jrupprechtlaw.com/michael-singer-v-city-newton

 

Angel Hawk, a drone charter company based in Denver, CO, had recently consulted a local Police Department on drafting a city ordinance that will help the city charge offenders who are flying unsafely and are disregarding FAA Part 107 requirements -- such as flying over people.  The proposed ordinance essentially mirrors Part 107 requirements as it relates to not flying over people and remaining within line-of-sight.  The objective of the Police Department is to protect it's citizens, but have been faced with instances where the City District Attorney would not charge offenders who were in clear violation of Part 107 requirements.  Without a city ordinance, the DA would not charge the offender.  The lack of FAA convictions to Part 107 offenders have left cities with a need to take matters into their own hands; rightly so, for the sake of protecting it's citizens.

 

For the sake of future commercial drone operations, the Singer v. City of Newton is a significant ruling that will hopefully edge the FAA to take a more active role in drone legislation.  Having individual States dictate drone registration and airspace requirements would be a logistical nightmare with no way to standardize regulation between cities. that will inevitably hinder the future of commercial drone operations in the U.S.

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