Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

Overview

The most significant issues confronting unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufacturers, operators, and users are firmly rooted in aviation law. Consequently, it is critical that clients seeking guidance on UAS-related matters have access to attorneys who are familiar with UAS operations, and have a nuanced understanding of the Federal Aviation Administration and the dynamics that animate its decision-making process.

Eckert Seamans’ UAS team specializes in helping clients navigate the legal terrain surrounding the proliferation of unmanned aircraft systems technology, an industry that is evolving faster than the government’s ability to regulate it. Under Congressional order, the FAA has opened the national airspace to commercial and civilian UAS – and Eckert Seamans stands by to serve as a guidepost to its clients to navigate the imminent federal, state, and local regulations governing the technology’s use. Because the potential applications for UAS are countless, the scope of the law is wide and the forecasted total economic impact of UAS integration in the United States is significant. The adoption of UAS technology could represent an $82 billion global industry by 2025 and could lead to the creation of more than 100,000 jobs in the United States within the next 10 years, according to the most recent economic report on UAS integration in the United States, issued by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

For several years, Eckert Seamans’ Aviation Group has closely followed the FAA’s evolving regulations and exemptions regarding the use of commercial unmanned systems. Aviation attorneys at Eckert Seamans have years of experience practicing before the FAA, both as outside counsel to air carriers and other aviation entities and as in-house counsel for the second-largest airline in the world. In addition to the FAA, our attorneys practice before a number of other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Transportation, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration, and National Transportation Safety Board.

The firm’s UAS practice group is based in Washington, D.C., and led by Evelyn Sahr, who was selected for inclusion in Chambers USA for her national work in Transportation Law (Aviation: Regulatory). Sahr is also on the Governing Committee of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Air & Space Law. Jonathan Linde is another key member of the UAS practice; he has advised clients on the FAA’s sUAS rulemaking for 10 years and is an experienced UAS and model aircraft pilot. Linde has represented clients in numerous enforcement proceedings before the FAA, prepared and submitted Section 333 applications on behalf of entities seeking to operate UAS for commercial purposes, and advised a variety of companies on the permissibility of proposed UAS operations.

Our attorneys have served in leading positions in international civil aviation bodies, including the International Civil Aviation Organization, and are experienced in senior policy and advising on a wide variety of operational and regulatory matters. Counseling and representing a broad client base, the firm’s cross-disciplinary Aviation Group also has in-depth experience with aircraft transactions and financings, accident litigation, and commercial and airline claims as well as insurance, intellectual property, immigration, border control and clearance, facilitation, environmental, insolvency/bankruptcy, labor/employment, ownership, tax, and other commercial matters.