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.
- 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).
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 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.
General UAS Regulations
Flight & Functionality Restrictions
FAA Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Domestic Use of Force