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    Unmanned Aircraft Systems Law Blog
    Crisis Management Resource Center
    Kenneth Quinn Crisis Management Video


    Kenneth P. Quinn

    Kenneth P. Quinn

    T: +1.202.663.8898 F: +1.202.663.8007
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    Civil Penalties Up For Some Aviation Violations
    Authors: Jennifer E. Trock, Kenneth P. Quinn, Graham C. Keithley, Chris Leuchten
    The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently issued an interim final rule to increase the maximum aviation-related civil penalty amounts to adjust for inflation. The rule became effective on August 10, 2016, and will apply prospectively.
    Picking Up Speed: DOT Releases Guidance on Automated Vehicles
    Authors: Jennifer E. Trock, Sheila McCafferty Harvey, Kenneth P. Quinn, Chris Leuchten
    New NHTSA guidance represents the federal government’s first attempt to develop a comprehensive regulatory structure for automated vehicles. This transformative technology offers vast promises and significant concerns regarding the future of this “inevitable” new form of transportation.
    New FAA Statutes and Rules for Commercial Drone Operations will Benefit Utilities
    Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, J. Anthony Terrell, Michael G. Lepre, Roland G. Backhaus, Naresh C. Lall, Chris Leuchten
    New FAA rules broadly authorizing commercial drone operations are now in effect and the utility sector stands to benefit significantly. The new rules provide utilities the opportunity to utilize drones to reduce costs and increase worker safety. Additionally, new federal legislation enacted last month may provide a framework for utilities to take advantage of both special privileges and protections related to drone operations in the future.
    FAA Proposes Updated Rule for Airport Safety Management Systems
    Authors: Jennifer E. Trock, Kenneth P. Quinn, Chris Leuchten, Graham C. Keithley
    Updating a proposed rule first issued in 2010, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) on safety management systems (SMS) for airports.1 The FAA’s revised proposal narrows the applicability of the SMS rule to far fewer airports and also lessens certain training requirements on covered airports. Comments on the updated proposal must be submitted before September 12, 2016.
    U.S. EPA Finds Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Aircraft Endanger Public Health—a First Step in Adoption of New ICAO Standards
    Authors: Jennifer E. Trock, Kenneth P. Quinn, Matthew W. Morrison
    The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) released a draft rule in February of this year proposing a new standard for reducing GHG emissions in new and in-production commercial aircraft. In the wake of the proposed ICAO standard, which must be approved and formally adopted by the ICAO Council, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a finding that aircraft greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions endanger public health and welfare—a prerequisite for new U.S. regulations setting standards for GHG emissions, which will be adopted after ICAO’s standard is finalized in March 2017.
    FAA Releases Long-Awaited Rule for Commercial Operations of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
    Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, Graham C. Keithley, Chris Leuchten, Amna Arshad
    A key milestone in regulating the commercial use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) final rule overhauls the current case-by-case exemption regime, establishes an operational framework, and creates a new certification process for commercial sUAS pilots. The new rule creates significant opportunities for a wide range of industries, particularly through its waiver provisions that allow for the approval of commercial sUAS operations outside of Part 107—including nighttime and beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations. The new rule will take effect in late August.
    Indian Regulator to Consider the Civil and Commercial Use of Drones
    Authors: Moushami P. Joshi, Jennifer E. Trock, Stephen B. Huttler, Graham G. Wisner, Kenneth P. Quinn, Sanjay J. Mullick
    Last month, India’s civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), issued draft guidelines proposing a framework to regulate the civil and commercial use of unmanned aerial systems or drones (“Guidelines”). Comments are due by May 21, 2016. This is a pivotal moment in India’s adoption of the use of drones, and it presents an important opportunity for industry stakeholders to voice their opinion in order to better ensure India’s rules are harmonized with international best practices.
    FAA Updates Guidance on Obstruction Lighting
    Authors: Jennifer E. Trock, Kenneth P. Quinn
    The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released new guidance on obstructions, updating builders and developers on the requirements for marking and lighting any structure that may impact the National Airspace System (NAS), such as tall buildings, energy and electricity infrastructure, and communications towers. Developers should familiarize themselves with the new guidance, which will apply to new construction.
    Supreme Court Allows Changes to Agencies’ Interpretive Rules without the Notice-and-Comment Rulemaking Process
    Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, Graham C. Keithley
    In March, the Supreme Court upheld an agency’s reversal of its own regulatory interpretation without requiring notice-and-comment rulemaking. Regulated entities now face considerable uncertainty in relying on agencies’ regulatory interpretations, even during enforcement actions. While the Court cautioned agencies from arbitrarily and capriciously changing their interpretations, particularly when the exiting interpretation is heavily relied upon, courts will likely continue to defer to the agency’s new interpretation.
    FAA Proposes Rules For Commercial Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) Operations (14 C.F.R. Part 107); White House Issues UAS Privacy Memorandum
    Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock, Graham C. Keithley, Benjamin M. Berlin
    On February 15, 2015, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed rules for the commercial operation of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) weighing less than 55 pounds—a long-awaited step towards integrating commercial UAS flights such as precision agriculture, surveying, real estate photography, and utility and infrastructure inspections (e.g., electrical wires, pipelines, and bridges) into U.S. airspace. But the proposed rules leave prohibited other desired commercial uses (e.g., package delivery, spray operations and nighttime flights) and unanswered key safety, privacy, security, liability, and spectrum questions. Comments to the FAA’s rules are due April 24, 2015 and all affected parties, including businesses and industries hoping to use any-sized UAS, should take advantage of this opportunity to offer their views, concerns, and suggestions to shape the incipient regulatory framework for UAS.
    Ownership and Control of U.S. Air Carriers, Aviation Regulation in the United States
    Source: American Bar Association
    Authors: Kenneth P. Quinn, Jennifer E. Trock
    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, Graham C. Keithley, Benjamin M. Berlin
    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.
    July 2008
    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.
    January 2007
    Battling Accident Criminalization
    Source: Aero Safety World
    Author: Kenneth P. Quinn

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