On April 19, 2016, the full Senate of the United States passed the “Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016” (“FAA Act”), which had been previously passed by the full House of Representatives in February, 2016. The FAA Act contains several notable provisions, the first of which, Section 2142, regarding federal preemption of local drone regulations, was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on March 17, 2016, and reported in this publication on March 31.
The FAA Act, as finally approved by the Senate, devotes substantial additional space to unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”), and, most notably for this purpose, Section 2141, “Carriage of Property by Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems for Compensation or Hire.” (Section 2141 will be codified in the main body of the legislation at Section 44812.) That provision was clearly authored by Amazon, which has made considerable noise about the capability of UAS to deliver its products expeditiously and at low cost. The FAA Act gives the Secretary of Transportation two years to issue a final rule authorizing the carrying of property by operations of small UAS within the United States.
The requirement for the contents of the final rule is, however, clearly specified in the Act.
Amazon has announced it will use unmanned aircraft systems to deliver packages. But how soon? Westlaw Journal Aviation quoted Barbara Lichman and Paul Fraidenburgh today in an article entitled “The FAA’s recent notice and Amazon drone delivery.”