Drones are remotely piloted, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) that were originally designed and manufactured for military purposes. In the last decade, government agencies, corporations, and even private citizens have all benefited from the democratization of drones and UAV technology. In 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally developed regulatory measures to ensure that drones are safe for recreational and commercial usage. However, public interest didn’t truly ignite until 2013, when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced his plans to create a drone-based delivery system.
Today, thousands of fledgling UAV pilots are purchasing drones and planning their maiden flights. Because the registration process is simple and inexpensive, the FAA estimates that there will be over 2 million registered drone users in the United States by 2019. While this is an amazing opportunity for hobbyists and aviation enthusiasts alike, many people are questioning the safety and legalities of having drones operating in neighborhoods and commercial areas.
The Future of Aviation Law
In his article, “How Drones Are Changing Aviation Law,” Associate Editor Max Marbut of the Jacksonville Daily Record explains, “Attorneys who practice aviation law call [drones] the source of the most substantial change in that area of law since 1929 when the U.S. Air Commerce Act was adopted.” To explore the future of aviation law, Marbut scheduled an interview with our President, Attorney Robert Spohrer, who is a passionate aviator and a board-certified aviation specialist.
According to Attorney Spohrer, “It’s a brave new world for the regulators, for the lawyers and for the system. The FAA depends on owners to register, although there’s no teeth in the registration requirement. It took the FAA several years to come up with some basic rules governing recreational and commercial drone operation. By the time they came out with the rules, a lot of the rules were obsolete because the technology had improved so much.”
Are Drones a Threat to Aircraft?
Advancements in drone technology have inspired a fresh wave of public anxiety. There have been countless incidents where negligent or inexperienced hobbyists injured passersby or ignored FAA regulations to spy on neighbors or fly in prohibited areas. In Marbut’s article, Attorney Spohrer addresses
another serious concern: “aircraft are most vulnerable to a mishap during takeoff and landing, the period of flight when the aircraft and a drone would be most likely to share airspace based on altitude.”
In 2018, researchers from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University installed drone detection devices on a building near the Daytona Beach International Airport. For 13 days, these devices recorded the launch locations, altitudes, and routes of 72 unique drones.
The results of this study, which was published in the International Journal of Aviation, Aeronautics, and Aerospace, publicized the following information:
- 93% of the flights were conducted within FAA-restricted areas of the airport, including launching and landing sites.
- 21.5% of the flights exceeded the altitude limits recommended by the FAA.
- There were two recorded instances where drones nearly collided with airplanes, endangering the lives of passengers and pilots.
Air travel is considered the safest form of public transportation in the world. However, when the rare aviation accident does occur, it typically results in catastrophic injuries and tragic fatalities. Although the FAA has partnered with trade organizations and hobbyist associations to educate the public about airspace safety, it’s different to control the actions of a negligent drone operator. For this reason and more, Attorney Spohrer is “concerned about aviation safety in general. This is adding to the risks involved. It’s just a matter of time until there is some type of accident.”
Retain Experienced & Compassionate Legal Representation
The Jacksonville personal injury lawyers at Spohrer Dodd have a comprehensive understanding of the fluctuating laws, policies, and regulations associated with aviation accidents and drone-related collisions. In fact, our trial-tested legal team is comprised of board-certified aviation specialists and FAA-licensed pilots who are trained to represent private, commercial, and military aviation accident cases. Under our guidance, you can pursue compensatory damages that alleviate your injury-related debts and safeguard your quality of life.
Contact Spohrer Dodd at (904) 637-7721 to schedule a free case evaluation today.