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Evolving Law on Airport Implications by Unmanned Aerial Systems (2017)

Chapter: LEGAL RESEARCH DIGEST 32: EVOLVING LAW ON AIRPORT IMPLICATIONS BY UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS

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Suggested Citation:"LEGAL RESEARCH DIGEST 32: EVOLVING LAW ON AIRPORT IMPLICATIONS BY UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Evolving Law on Airport Implications by Unmanned Aerial Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24932.
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Legal Research Digest 32 AIRPORT COOPERATIVE RESEARCH PROGRAM Sponsored by the Federal Aviation Administration October 2017 EVOLVING LAW ON AIRPORT IMPLICATIONS BY UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS This digest was prepared under ACRP Project 11-01, “Legal Aspects of Airport Programs,” for which the Transportation Research Board (TRB) is the agency coordinating the research. Under Topic 08-03, this digest was prepared by Timothy M. Ravich, Ravich Law Firm, PLLC, Orlando, Florida. Responsible Senior Program Officer: Marci A. Greenberger Background There are over 4,000 airports in the country and most of these airports are owned by governments. A 2003 survey conducted by Airports Council International–North America concluded that city ownership accounts for 38 percent, followed by regional airports at 25 percent, single county at 17 percent, and multi-jurisdictional at 9 percent. Primary legal services to these airports are, in most cases, provided by municipal, county, and state attorneys. Research reports and summaries produced by the Airport Continuing Legal Studies Project and published as ACRP Legal Research Digests are developed to assist these attorneys seeking to deal with the myriad of legal problems encountered during airport development and operations. Such substantive areas as eminent domain, environmental concerns, leasing, contracting, security, insurance, civil rights, and tort liability present cutting-edge legal issues where research is useful and indeed needed. Airport legal research, when conducted through the TRB’s legal studies process, either collects primary data that usually are not available elsewhere or performs analysis of existing literature. Foreword Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are a rapidly developing part of aviation. Their operations raise numerous legal issues in the areas of safety, security, and privacy. The sizes of UAS and their uses are just as varied as their var- ious constituents. Currently, it appears that UAS technol- ogy is ahead of the law. This legal digest is a practical guide to assist airport sponsors and their legal counsel in understanding the basic legal and operational issues presented by civil UAS, and evaluating best practices for managing these issues. It begins with a background on UAS uses, applications, UHJXODWLRQVDQGGHÀQLWLRQVOHDGLQJWRRSHUDWLRQVZLWKLQ the National Airspace System (NAS), the issues of federalism as it relates to local and state laws, tort law implications, operations at airports, and best practices for airport operators. Airport operators of all size airports and WKHLU OHJDO FRXQVHOVZLOOÀQG WKLV OHJDO GLJHVW XVHIXO DV they navigate requests from operators and potential uses at the airport.

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TRB's Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Legal Research Digest 32: Evolving Law on Airport Implications by Unmanned Aerial Systems provides guidance to enhance understanding of the basic legal and operational issues presented by civil unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and evaluates best practices for managing these issues. The digest covers background on UAS uses, applications, regulations, and definitions, leading to operations within the National Airspace System (NAS), the issues of federalism as it relates to local and state laws, tort law implications, operations at airports, and best practices for airport operators. Appendix B—Guidance and Policy Documents and Appendix I—Summary of Interviews and Poll Results are available online.

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