Drone/UA Regulatory Practice

The commercial drone market is on the verge of exponential growth. For many years, drones (i.e., “unmanned aircraft” or “UA”) were the domain of hobbyists; not typically utilized by commercial enterprises. But in 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”), through Part 107 of its rules, started granting waivers for companies to operate drones in the U.S. According to Business Insider, since 2016 annual sales of drones increased from $8.5 billion to an expected $12 billion in 2021.

Now the FAA is implementing a new rule section, Part 89, which will create a regulatory environment wherein drone operations can be fully integrated into U.S. airspace and enable greater operational capabilities of drones, while promoting safety and security. Part 89, like Part 107, is sure to further increase the market for drones, which is now expected to grow to $63.6 billion by 2025. Drone growth will occur across five main industry segments: agriculture, construction and mining, insurance, telecommunications, and law enforcement. Part 89 is effective as of April 21, 2021.

While Part 89 will create the regulatory certainty that will solidify the commercial drone market, drone operators, and especially manufacturers, will be subject to a tremendous number of new regulatory requirements for compliance with the FAA’s Remote Identification (“Remote ID”) process, which is the crux of the new rule section. Part 89 requires virtually all types of commercial drones to broadcast remote ID messages via unlicensed radio frequencies that will be compatible with personal wireless devices. Consequently, drones are subject to various types of new operational, performance, and message element requirements. These new requirements require drone manufacturers to comply with many new regulations which entail a plethora of filings with the FAA and other forms of rule observances to ensure compliance with Part 89’s Design and Production rules. Moreover, drone manufacturers will be subject to the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) radio-frequency equipment rules.

The CommLaw Group has experienced attorneys who can assist drone manufactures with FAA and FCC compliance so they may speed their products to market, with succinct and practical regulatory advice, processes, and filings. Our firm also works with consultants overseas to assist manufacturers and vendors with international regulatory compliance, as well as importation and customs work.

Our Services Include:

  • Access to attorneys and consultants that are not only experienced in the applicable laws and regulations but take the time to listen to you and design compliance and legal strategies that are best suited to your unique business. This includes determining the which Part 89 Remote ID compliance options are best for your company, e.g., standard Remote ID drone design, Remote ID broadcast module (i.e., retrofitting existing drones with broadcast modules or software upgrades), or operating without Remote ID capabilities in a FAA-Recognized Identification Area (“FRIA”).
  • Drone certification under Part 21 of the FAA’s Rules.
  • Part 107 commercial drone waiver requests.
  • Part 89 Means of Compliance (“MoC”) completing and filing. Manufacturers are required to submit a MoC to the FAA, containing a detailed description of Part 89 compliance, including testing and validation procedures used in determining compliance. The FAA must approve a MoC before the proposed design can be used for a drone or module.
  • Part 89 Declaration of Compliance (“DoC”) completion and filing. Manufacturers must submit a DoC to the FAA showing, among other things, that the manufacturer can prove compliance with Part 89, and demonstrating compliance with FCC equipment authorization rules.
  • Compliance with Part 89 labeling and serial number requirements.
  • FRIA application preparation and filing.
  • FCC rule compliance.
  • Drone importation and regulatory compliance in foreign countries.
  • Representation in regulatory inspection, audit, and enforcement actions. Close proximity to Washington DC enables our attorneys to engage directly with FAA and FCC officials.
  • Advising on FAA operational and performance requirements.
  • Alternative fee arrangements for routine compliance services that will give you the biggest bang for your buck while ensuring continued regulatory conformity for your products and services.
  • Frequent client alerts and advisories that keep you up to date on the latest regulatory changes and agency actions that that affect your business.