FAA Asserts Authority Over Drone Use


The FAA has issued a statement (PDF) asserting its authority over airspace matters and warning municipal and state governments to butt out when it comes to regulating drones. On Dec. 21, new registration requirements come into effect for drones weighing more than 250 grams. In its statement the FAA is reminding junior levels of government that they have no business trying to regulate drones or any other type of aerial activity. “Substantial air safety issues are raised when state or local governments attempt to regulate the operation or flight of aircraft,” the statement, issued by the office of the chief counsel, says. “If one or two municipalities enacted ordinances regulating UAS in the navigable airspace and a significant number of municipalities followed suit, fractionalized control of the navigable airspace could result.”

The agency says at least 45 states have expressed interest in regulating drone flights and the agency is warning state and local jurisdictions to do their homework before enacting any legislation because the FAA is pretty much omnipotent in this. “Because Federal registration is the exclusive means for registering UAS for purposes of operating an aircraft in navigable airspace, no state or local government may impose an additional registration requirement on the operation of UAS in navigable airspace without first obtaining FAA approval,” the agency wrote. There are a few areas in which the FAA says junior governments can pass laws (like restrictions on police surveillance, peeping drones and hunting-related activities) but the FAA is urging all jurisdictions to check first before trying to write drone laws. The statement has a list of contacts for consultation.