The Heritage Foundation Makes The Case For Congress To Rein In FAA On sUAVs

Redefining “Aircraft,” Defining “Drone”: A Job For The 115th Congress

” Over the course of nearly a century, Congress and aviation regulators have crafted a body of laws and regulations addressing the operation and safety of manned aircraft in the United States. Until recently, small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, colloquially called “drones,” have been understood and treated by regulators as distinct from aircraft and not subject to aviation laws. However, in 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration contravened an explicit statutory bar to adopting any regulation of recreational drones, justifying its unprecedented action by claiming that drones are now—and always were—aircraft for purposes of all federal aviation laws. The federal criminal code makes clear that certain aviation-related conduct is criminal, but few if any of these statutes make sense when applied to drones. To avoid attaching criminal liability to harmless backyard drone operations, Congress should rein in the FAA’s regulatory flights of fancy and clarify that drones are not aircraft for purposes of federal law.”

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