Huerta v. Pirker: NTSB Rules that UAS Are “Aircraft” and Subject to FAA Prohibition on Careless and Reckless Operations
Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, Benjamin M. Berlin, Graham C. Keithley
On November 18, 2014, in a unanimous decision, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are: (1) “aircraft” within the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) statutory and regulatory definitions; and (2) prohibited from operation in a careless and reckless manner under FAA regulations. The decision represents a significant win for the FAA in its attempts to prohibit unlawful UAS operations, and a setback for commercial interests that were hoping to turn the Pirker battle into a broader war against the FAA’s ban on commercial use of UAS. The opinion reverses an NTSB Administrative Law Judge’s (ALJ) decision earlier this year that the UAS Pirker commercially operated was a “model aircraft” beyond the FAA’s authority.
FAA Grants Exemptions and Releases Guidance for Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, Graham C. Keithley
On September 25, 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved six exemption requests for the use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for television and movie filmmaking under strict conditions. Simultaneously, the FAA released guidelines for petitioners seeking FAA exemption approval to operate sUAS in the National Airspace System (NAS). The FAA’s exemptions and guidance serve as useful relief valves to address pent-up demand for commercial UAS, with 40 exemption requests in the pipeline, many of which are now likely to be granted in modified forms in the coming months, especially in the agricultural, chemical, university research, and utilities sectors. These latest exemptions are highly restrictive, and do not represent a comprehensive regulatory framework to address the many safety, privacy, and security issues raised by the widespread use of UAS. FAA, which has neither expertise nor authority regarding privacy, is expected to issue a more comprehensive, proposed rulemaking for sUAS before the end of the year.
India’s Aviation Safety Rating Downgrade Could Have Cascading Effects
Authors: Stephen B. Huttler, Jennifer E. Trock, Moushami P. Joshi, Kenneth P. Quinn, Sanjay J. Mullick
On January 31, 2014, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) downgraded India’s aviation safety rating to Category 2 under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program – a program designed to ensure safety oversight by foreign aviation authorities in accordance with applicable International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices. FAA's foreign assessment program focuses on a country’s ability, not the individual air carrier’s, to adhere to ICAO’s standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance, largely under Annex 6 of the Chicago Convention. The downgrade, which came after years of consultations with the FAA, serves as a stark reminder to governments undergoing IASA and ICAO reviews to promptly and comprehensively address concerns before their status is downgraded.
DC Circuit Affirms Crucial FAA No Hazard Determination for Cape Wind Project
Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, Osama E. Hamdy
On January 22, 2014, the DC Circuit upheld the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) 2012 determination of no hazard, clearing the final FAA hurdle to construction of the 130-wind turbine Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound.
Foreign Airlines Permitted to Hold Equity Stakes in Indian Carriers
Authors: Stephen B. Huttler, Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, Sonakshi Jha
On September 20, 2012, the Government of India notified the public that it has undertaken a series of reforms relating to foreign investments in the country, including allowing foreign airlines to hold up to 49 percent foreign direct investment ("FDI") in Indian airlines. This decision, coupled with significant cuts on the taxes on overseas corporate borrowers, may lure foreign investors toward India, although Indian airlines face formidable financial pressures. The move comes at a time of renewed focus on liberalizing airline ownership laws in the U.S. and Europe.
DOT Moves Forward with Controversial Airline Passenger Protection Rules—Brings First Enforcement Case
Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock
In the face of significant airline opposition, the U.S. Department of Transportation ("DOT") has introduced a series of new rules designed to enhance passenger rights and "to improve the air travel environment for consumers." The new rules could have profound effects well beyond the immediate need for airlines, airports, and travel agents to make fundamental systems and programming changes, and to train appropriate employees. Prospects for increased DOT enforcement actions loom large on the horizon, especially for extended tarmac delays. Indeed, on November 14, 2011, the Department announced its first fine for alleged violations of its tarmac delay rules. While DOT said the $900,000 fine against American Eagle represents the largest civil penalty to be paid by an airline in a consumer protection case not involving civil rights violations, it was actually significantly less than the maximum possible amount: $16.7 million, with $250,000 credit given for the airline’s travel vouchers and frequent flyer awards to affected passengers.
DC Circuit Vacates Crucial FAA Determinations for Cape Wind Project
Authors: Jennifer E. Trock, Kenneth P. Quinn
The DC Circuit has vacated and remanded the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) no hazard determinations for 130 wind turbines in Nantucket Sound, finding that the FAA failed to follow its own handbook in determining whether the proposed turbines would have a “substantial adverse effect” on air navigation.
Improving Global Aviation Safety by Protecting Information Sources
Source: Aviation L. & Policy 249, 9 Issues, DePaul University College of Law
Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, Timothy Gerheim
Infrastructure Recovery – Stimulus Investments in the Transportation Sector
Authors: Jane Wallison Stein, Mark N. Lessard, Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, Michael C. Banks
On February 17, 2008, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the "Act"). The purposes of the $787 billion Act include preserving and creating jobs; promoting economic recovery and assisting those most impacted by the recession; investing in economic efficiency, infrastructure and environmental protection; and stabilizing state and local government budgets. The Act includes significant grants and other assistance for airport, mass transit, highway, rail, transportation security, and other infrastructure projects.
Preserving the Safety Benefits of Voluntary Disclosure Programs
Author: Kenneth P. Quinn
In early 2008, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) initiated enforcement to impose a multimillion dollar civil penalty on an airline for operating planes that were not in compliance with the FAA's Airworthiness Directives. Since then, the FAA has implemented a series of compliance audits on all air carriers. In conjunction with the audits, Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters and FAA Acting Administrator Robert A. Sturgell have commenced a number of initiatives to maintain the industry’s level of air safety. One initiative is the formation of an outside Independent Review Team, which seeks to gather industry information, comments, and craft recommendations regarding the FAA’s implementation of aviation safety system.
FAA Emphasizes Part 135 Operational Control Requirements
Authors: Jennifer E. Trock, Kenneth P. Quinn, Jonathon H. Foglia
Battling Accident Criminalization
Source: Aero Safety World
Author: Kenneth P. Quinn