FAA recognizes local authority in new drone regulations

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recognized local governments and local decision-making authorities in new rules issued on unmanned aviation systems (UAS), commonly known as drones, the administration said.

The FAA recognizes city leaders should play a role in regulating how, when and where drones operate in their communities. The new rules put in place a number of new regulations, including hours of operation, height and line of sight requirements.

The rules come at a time when local governments have been under attack by broad federal and state-level efforts to preempt local authority. In the final rule, the FAA stated that the agency was “not persuaded that including a preemption provision in the final rule is warranted at this time,” concluding that “certain legal aspects concerning small UAS use may be best addressed at the state or local level.”

In April, the US Senate produced a bipartisan amendment that stripped federal preemption language from their long-term FAA reauthorization bill. The amendment, sponsored by Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Tillis (R-NC), Blumenthal (D-CT), Purdue (R-GA), Lee (R-UT) and Markey (D-MA), was adopted by Senate Commerce Committee leadership in a package of bipartisan amendments to the underlying bill, but did not receive a vote due to procedural reasons.The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed their version of the reauthorization bill without preemption language earlier this year, but the bill has not yet been brought to the floor for a vote.