For those of you who may have missed the live presentation of the latest in our ongoing UAS Webinar Series, “Drone Defense: Rules, Regulations, Dos and Don’ts,” you can view the entire  presentation by clicking on the links below.

The slide deck from the webinar is available here. The webinar recording is available here.

Check back here for updates on the next webinar, which will be held on November 21, 2019!

As most readers know, the lack of a standard for the remote identification of unmanned aircraft has held up progress in a number of areas critical for integration of UAS into the national airspace system.  Rules for flight over people and in heavily congested areas, protection of critical infrastructure, beyond visual line of sight operations and unmanned traffic management, and effective counter-drone systems all require a remote ID solution.  We are happy to report that, after many months of delay, the long, slow march of the UAS remote identification rulemaking has finally reached an important milestone.  The draft of the rule is currently under review at the White House.

Before the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) can be released for comment, it first must go through a review process at the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), which is part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House.  The OIRA review process provides an excellent opportunity for stakeholders to influence the process before the draft regulation is publicly released.

As part of the review, members of the public can request a meeting with OIRA pursuant to Executive Order 12866 to discuss the proposed rule, what it should contain, and how the rule will impact interested parties — including UAS manufacturers, operators, and users.  As part of Executive Order 12866, OIRA is required to conduct a cost/benefit analysis and determine whether the benefits of the rule justify the costs.  The review process can take up to 90 days, and can be extended for an additional 30 days.  There is no minimum time for the review.  According to OIRA, the average review period is 53 days.

If OIRA’s analysis is favorable, the NPRM would then move forward.  It is possible, however, that at the end of the review period, the rule may be “returned” to the FAA, which would then have to take additional time to revise or redraft the proposed regulation.

It is OIRA’s policy to meet with any interested party, including state or local governments, small businesses or other business interests, or representations from the environmental, health, or safety communities, to discuss proposed regulations.  The meetings are conducted under the OIRA Administrator or his designees, and a log of all meetings is publicly available.

Now is the time for serious UAS manufacturers, operators, and users to get involved in the federal government’s process and be heard.  At a minimum, it would be worthwhile to meet with OIRA and let them know that the process needs to be expedited and that continued delay of the regulations has serious repercussions.  It leads to lost revenue, lost opportunity, and an increasingly lawless attitude among would-be commercial operators who don’t think there is any light at the end of the tunnel.


Tuesday, October 1, 2019 | Noon ET

DronesThe United States is home to 1.3 million registered drones. The Department of Homeland Security cannot quantify the number that are unregistered, but more than 7 million drones are expected to have been sold in the U.S. by 2020. As the number of drones increases, so does the likelihood that a drone will be used in a terrorist attack or other criminal activity.

Join Mark Dombroff and Mark McKinnon, partners in Fox Rothschild’s Aviation Practice Group, for a complimentary 90-minute webinar on the latest counter-UAS technology and an examination of the hurdles that must be overcome before it can be deployed.


  • Recent state and federal developments
  • Technologies that can be used today or are likely to be legalized in the near future
  • The role of the military, FAA and FCC in resolving these problems
  • Counter-UAS options for private entities

Potential liability for failing to deploy counter-UAS systems.

Click Here to register by September 27, 2019.

Jet Taking Off

On August 1 2019, we told our readers/followers that Plane-ly Spoken was coming in for a landing as the Aviation Team packed its luggage (and boxes) and re-located to a new airport.  Well, both the Aviation Team and Plane-ly Spoken have landed, taxied to the gate and unloaded our belongings.  And so, the Fox Rothschild Aviation Team welcomes you back on-board.

In the weeks ahead, we’ll have updates on the wonderful world of drones, the controversies generated as a result of the certification of the 737 Max, the very latest dealing with miniature horses (and other animals) on aircraft and a whole host of subjects addressed in the distinctive manner of Plane-ly Spoken.

So . . . sit back, buckle up and let’s get ready to takeoff for our first flight with a new paint scheme!

The Planely Spoken Blog is the work of a talented group of aviation lawyers who have been together for decades.  We use Planely Spoken to provide you with our unique take on the issues of the day, to notify you about our upcoming events and webinars, and occasionally, we even break news. 

Planely Spoken has had several different homes over the years.  As many of you know, effective August 19, 2019, our entire aviation team will be moving to a new home, Fox Rothschild.  A result, at some point in the near future, when you visit the site, it will have a different look, and will include the new contact information for the team members.  We are happy to let you know that this transition will be seamless and, apart from some cosmetic changes, nothing about the blog will change.  All the same authors will still be here, providing the same timely information and analysis that you have become accustomed to.

In addition, we are happy to announce that after the transition is complete, we will be hitting the ground running, with a series of webinars covering some of the hottest topics in the industry, including drone defense and counter drone technology, developments affecting family assistance requirements, an update on changes at the FAA and NTSB, and much more.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our loyal readers who have been with us over the years.  This is a very exciting time for the aviation industry.  We are thankful that we have been able to be a part of it with you and we look forward to spending many more years together.

In Part I of this post, we described various provisions in the Promoting the Launch of Aviation’s Next Era Act of 2019 (the PLANE Act of 2019), S. 2198,  as introduced by Senators Inhofe (OK) and King (ME) on July 23.  There we focused on Title I of the bill, “Fairness for Pilots,” (sections 101 to 105).  In this post, we focus on provisions in the other five titles of the bill that will also be of considerable interest to our readers.

Title II — Forward Looking Investment in General Aviation, Hangers, and Tarmacs (“FLIGHT Act”) (sections 201-206)

  1. General aviation public-private partnership program

If enacted, section 201 would establish a 5-year general aviation pilot public-private partnership program for improving facilities at general aviation airports and privately-owned airports used or intended to be used for public purposes and that do not have scheduled air service.  No more than four airports in each State may participate in the pilot program with a cap of $500,000 in FAA funding available to each airport in any fiscal year.  The provision authorizes $5,000,000 to be appropriated out of the Airport and Airway Trust Fund for each of the fiscal years 2020-2025.  Eligible activities for funding include leveraging private sector investments or developing public-private partnerships for building or improving hangers, business, or other airport facilities; funding studies that consider various measures an airport should take to attract private sector investment; or participating in a public-private investment.

  1. General aviation airport entitlement reform

Section 202 would increase the FAA’s share of allowable project costs from 90 percent to 95 percent for a general aviation airport if it determines that a project at an airport that is not a primary airport will increase safety or security at the airport or the airport is categorized as a basic or unclassified airport in the FAA’s 2012 report on General Aviation Airports: A National Asset.

  1. Disaster Relief airports

Section 203 would permit the FAA to designate as a “disaster relief airport” an airport categorized as a “regional reliever airport” in the FAA’s 2016 report, National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) 2017-2021; is within a “reasonable distance … of a hospital or transplant or trauma center; “is in a region … prone to natural disasters; has a paved runway capable of supporting aircraft up to 12,500 pounds and aircraft maintenance or serving facilities; and has adequate taxi and ramp space to accommodate engine or light multi-engine aircraft for loading and unloading.

  1. Airport development relating to disaster relief

Section 204 describes the types of activities related to planning, acquisition, or construction of disaster relief airports that would be eligible for FAA airport development grant funding.

Title III — Securing and Revitalizing Aviation (“SARA Act”) (section 301)

Section 301 would preclude from civil liability any individuals designated to act as a representative of the FAA Administrator in accordance with 14 CFR part 183, subpart C, when carrying out duties with reasonable care within the United States or its territories in accordance with their designation.  The designated individuals specified in the part 183, subpart C, are: aviation medical examiners; pilot examiners; technical personnel examiners; designated aircraft maintenance inspectors; designated engineering representatives; designated manufacturing inspection representatives; and designated airworthiness representatives.

Title IV – Air Traffic Controller Reforms (sections 401-402)

Section 401 would require the FAA Administrator to designate all “necessary” employees at the agency’s Aeronautical Center in Oklahoma City as “excepted employees” in the event of a lapse in appropriations.  The purpose of this language would ensure that the Academy remains open during a government shutdown for continued training of air traffic controllers (ATCs).

Section 402 would direct the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee to review all FAA regulations and policies related to the training of ATC tower operators and submit its recommendations to the FAA.  The Committee’s recommendations would address ways to modify existing requirements and policies to prepare and better utilize approved air traffic collegiate training initiative school graduates and other qualified air traffic control program graduates for work at ATC contract towers.  The Committee’s would also recommend changes that incorporate classroom, simulation, and on-the-job training for applicants applying for an initial facility rating.

Title V – Aviation Fuel Taxes (section 501)

Section 501 would make a number of Internal Revenue Code technical changes to the rate of tax for certain aviation fuels and specify that tax receipts from aviation fuels be deposited in the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.

Title VI – Voluntary Surrender of Repair Station Certificate (section 601)

This provision would require the FAA to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking and a subsequent final rule to restore aeronautical repair stations’ ability to surrender voluntarily and unilaterally their certificate of operation without the requirement for FAA acceptance of the certificate surrender.  The requirement was added to 14 CFR §145.55 in 2014 in response to National Transportation Safety Board Recommendation A-04-02.  The NTSB recommended that the FAA issue a rule “to prevent individuals who have been associated with a previously revoked repair station from continuing to operate through a new repair station.”  Section 601 would also require the FAA to include in its rulemaking provisions to prevent an individual who “materially contributes to the revocation of a repair station certificate” from reentering the repair station industry and authorizes a repair station that terminates an individual who materially contributes to the revocation to reapply for a certificate.

As we stated in Part I of this post, although it remains unclear whether the press of other legislative business during the current Congressional session allows adequate time for full consideration of the PLANE Act, we will continue to monitor and report on any future Congressional actions regarding the legislation.

On July 23, Senators Inhofe (OK) and King (ME), introduced the Promoting the Launch of Aviation’s Next Era Act of 2019 (the PLANE Act of 2019), S. 2198, a 38-page bill which according to  press releases from Senator Inhofe’s and Senator King’s offices, “would empower the voices of pilots, invest in airport infrastructure and ensure more opportunities for a trained aviation workforce.”  In a recent letter to  both Senators, thirteen aviation associations indicated their strong support for the bill. Continue Reading Plane-ly Speaking About the PLANE Act of 2019 – Part I

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), “the size of the global space economy, which combines satellite services and ground equipment, government space budgets, and global navigation satellite services (GNSS) equipment, is estimated to be about $345B.”   Interestingly, government space budgets only account for $83 billion, or a little under 25 percent of the total.  A robust commercial space launch industry is necessary to keep up with increasing demand.  Unfortunately, government regulation of the commercial space launch industry has not kept up with this explosive growth.  Continue Reading DOT: Commercial Space ‘Takes Off’