The increased operation of drones in the civilian landscape has raised new challenges for policy makers and regulatory agencies in the United States and around the world. Some of the concerns legislators and regulators have attempted to address include how to protect public safety and personal rights, such as privacy and land ownership, in the era of drones. Additional concerns relate to how to protect areas of national, historical, or natural importance from harm that may ensue from unmanned flights.
On June 28, 2016, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration finalized the Rule on the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. The new procedures established under Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations cover a “broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds.” Among the matters regulated under the Rule are operating requirements, pilot certification, and certification of unmanned aviation systems. While not specifically covered by the Rule, the FAA is also taking action to educate drone users on privacy considerations.
A Law Library of Congress report titled Regulation of Drones surveys the rules that apply to the operation of civilian drones in twelve countries, as well as the European Union. The report includes individual country studies on Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. It also contains a comparative summary that provides information about the International Civil Aviation Organization’s 2011 circular titled Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) (CIR328).
The report notes the criteria selected by the surveyed countries and by the EU for implementing a number of operational requirements. Such criteria often include the weight and/or type of use of drones. It also addresses specific topics such as registration and labeling of drones, flight authorization information, and requirements for drone operator qualifications. Specific attention is given to the coverage of operational requirements, including spatial restrictions, radio communication rules, operating drones within visual line of sight, safety features of drones, insurance, and real-time supervision systems. Laws regarding the protection of privacy, which are often separate from the specific drone regulations but may apply to using drones to record information, are also discussed.
We invite you to review this report along with the many other multinational and single country reports available on the Law Library’s website. We also invite you to read two previous In Custodia Legis posts that are relevant to the discussion of the use of drones. The first addresses legal aspects of unmanned systems for civilian uses; the second analyzes legal aspects that apply to lethal autonomous weapons.