Federal Regulation

There are a handful of legislative proposals at the federal level that would regulate the non-military, domestic use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The FAA recently released comprehensive rules governing registration and use of UAS. The majority of the proposals have arisen out of privacy concerns and would regulate the use of UAS by law enforcement and other public employees for surveillance purposes; however, a growing number of proposals would restrict the domestic use of UAS as weapon systems.

View Restricted US Airspace
FAA Drone Owner Database 2015-2016

Federal Legislation

  1. FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Pub. L. No. 112-95, 126 Stat. 11 (2012) (providing, inter alia, special rules for model aircraft, agency agreements for use of UAVs, and restrictions on airspace).
  2. S.2658 Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016

S.2658 Summary
S.2658 'Federal Preemption' Clause (§2142)

Federal Court Cases

United States v. Causby, 328 U.S. 256 (1946) (“Landowner . . . must have exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere . . . The landowner owns at least as much of the space above the ground as [he] can occupy or use in connection with the land.”).

Allegheny Airlines v. Cedarhurst, 238 F.2d 812 (2d Cir. 1956) (“The federal regulatory system, if valid, has preempted the field [regulating airspace] below as well as above 1,000 feet from the ground.”).

Congressional Reports

Congressional Research Service Report, “Unmanned Aircraft Operations in Domestic Airspace: U.S. Policy Perspectives and the Regulatory Landscape.” Click here to read the report.

Congressional Research Service Report, “Drones in Domestic Surveillance Operations.” Click here to read the report.

FAA Regulations

General UAS Regulations

FAA Final Rule (June 2016) Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems

List of FAA Rules Governing the Use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems

Flight & Functionality Restrictions

H.R. 798: To amend the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 to prohibit the flying of unmanned recreational aircraft near commercial airports.
S. 387: Safe Skies for Unmanned Aircraft Act of 2015.
S. 1314: Commercial UAS Modernization Act.

FAA Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Overview of Small UAS NPRM
Full Text of Small UAS NPRM


H.R. 5961: Farmer's Privacy Act of 2012
H.R. 637: Preserving American Privacy Act of 2013
H.R. 972: Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2013
S. 1016: Preserving Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act of 2013
H.R. 1262: Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act of 2013
S. 1243: Making appropriations for the Departments of Transportation

Domestic Use of Force

H.R. 1083: No Armed Drones Act (NADA) of 2013
S. 505: To prohibit the use of drones to kill citizens of the U.S. within the U.S.
H.R. 1269: Life, Liberty, and Justice for All Americans Act

Private Use

S. 1057: Safeguarding Privacy and Fostering Aerospace Innovation Act of 2013