This video is intended to assist state and local agencies and lawmakers when it comes to writing and adopting rules and regulations in their communities concerning drones and other uncrewed aircraft systems.
Welcome to the channel, everyone! My name is Russ, and I have been an FAA Part 107 certified drone pilot since 2018. I fly drones commercially as well as recreationally, and I also operate this YouTube channel that helps individuals and organizations get the most out of their drones. I also strive to help disseminate information about UAV rules and regulations as they progress and transform.
Now, although we have come a very long way, we are still in the early stages of the adoption of uncrewed aircraft systems into the national airspace system in the United States. And there is still so much work to do to inform the general population about drones.
Now, if you're watching this video, it means that you are considering the implementation of new drone regulations in your state or community, or you may be someone who is concerned about proposed legislation and you're looking for information to share with your representatives so they can make an informed decision.
So, I'm going to try to keep this video clear and concise, with minimal jargon to make sure that the most important information is presented to people who may not have any or minimal knowledge in the way of uncrewed aircraft systems.
I will have several reference links in the video description down below that contain the detailed facts about UAS regulations in the United States.
One of the most valuable and comprehensive of those is the recently published white paper by the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International.
Now, before you attempt to draft any legislation or vote on any drone regulations in your state, I strongly urge you to read that. It will help you understand the history and the facts of our current federal UAS rules.
So, I'd like to start with an excerpt actually from that white paper that clearly sets the tone for the remainder of this video:
“States and localities may not regulate UAS in a manner that interferes with the federally occupied field of aviation safety, including air navigation. The same principles that have governed the issue of federal preemption in the aviation sector continue to apply as state and local law turns to drones. As set forth above, the federal field is broad, covering air navigation and all aspects of aviation safety.”
“Federal law also expressly preempts state and local laws relating to the prices, routes, and services of air carriers—aircraft that carry people and property on an interstate basis—a category into which a growing number of UAS operators fit as drone applications expand and scale. States and localities are not immune from preemption simply because the aircraft they hope to regulate operate closer to the ground. A growing number of court decisions affirm this point.”
So, the bottom line is that any state regulations limiting the flight of UAVs, if passed, would be in direct violation of federal law and challenge the sovereignty of the Federal Aviation Administration, and they would surely succumb to any challenge litigation.
Your state would spend egregious amounts of money defending and losing lawsuits brought forth by organizations that depend on UAVs for commerce, safety, inspections, and so much more.
What about non-commercial UAV flights?
So, what about non-commercial UAV flights, you ask? What if the drone legislation that you're proposing were to exclude Part 107 certified commercial flights and just apply to recreational drone flights? Well, it actually doesn't matter.
You see, the FAA clearly defines a drone as an aircraft. Even though there is no human on board, it is still, by all definitions, an aircraft.
This is not an opinion; it is a very clear fact. I can't stress it enough.
This means that when a drone is in flight, it is under the jurisdiction of the federal government, and any attempt to regulate the usage of that aircraft would be a direct violation of federal law.
The driving factor of the majority of state and local drone legislation
So, what is the biggest driving factor of the majority of state and local drone legislation? Well, for the most part, it's privacy. Now, there are some safety concerns and also some nuisance concerns, but it's largely a privacy issue.
The general public is concerned, rightfully so, about their own personal privacy. Most drones have cameras, and most people don't like to be watched by someone else, especially by someone they can't see.
So they reach out to their lawmakers, trying to figure out a way to prevent creepy people from doing creepy things.
But here's the deal: Most states, I think just about every single state in the United States, already have laws in place that penalize the invasion of privacy.
Peeping Tom law or voyeurism law
Maybe you've heard the terms “peeping Tom law” or “voyeurism law.” If someone is violating your personal privacy, you have a right to contact authorities so they can address it.
It does not matter what device someone is using to invade another person's privacy; any such violations are already illegal as defined by existing rules and regulations. There simply is no need to add device-specific legislation when it comes to privacy.
That would be like having a vandalism-by-painting law next to a vandalism-by-hammer law next to a vandalism-by-hand law. It's all the same crime, and there's no need to specify the tool.
Now, I completely understand the concern and the fear of having someone observe you or your property anonymously. Privacy will always be a concern, but the problem with trying to regulate drones at a micro level would create a patchwork quilt of regulations, which ultimately would disrupt the entire airspace system.
Airspace can only be managed at the federal level, and it will never be any other way.
What are we supposed to do?
So, for those of you who ask, “Well, what are we supposed to do then? How do I stop someone from hovering outside my window when I don't know where they are? What do I do?”
Well, in September of 2023, coming up very shortly here, something called Remote ID will be fully operational. When that happens, every drone that you see in the sky will be able to be tracked, and authorities will also be able to pinpoint the pilot's location.
So, when that time comes and if you have someone obviously doing something nefarious with a drone, it will be pretty easy for law enforcement to locate the perpetrator.
So, if there's one good thing about Remote ID, and there isn't very many good things about it, that's one of them. It will provide assurance that bad people with a drone will be held accountable and it will completely remove the need for useless local drone regulations.
So, lawmakers, decision-makers, I beg of you, read that white paper. I have a link posted in the video description. If you're considering drone legislation in your state, you will dismiss it after reading that paper. And if you don't, I hope you have a pretty good state's attorney that doesn't require much sleep because they're going to be pretty busy.
Share this video, my friends. We need to nip these things in the bud right away. And also, check out Ryan Latourette's info. He is our drone missionary, so to speak, in the United States. I'll put a link for all of his information down below. He is informing as many people as he can about the facts, and that takes a lot of resources, so consider helping him out if you're able to.
Hit that like button if I gave you any information of value today, and also let me know what questions you have in the comments. I expect this to be a well-discussed topic, and I hope it leads to informing our lawmakers of the facts.
Have a great day, everyone, and as always, fly safe and fly smart. Thank you.
Btw, Drone Prepared is another great resource.
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