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FAA Sheds Light on Local Drone Regulation with Updated Fact Sheet - local regulations?

mavictk

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I just read an article, in Clearing the Skies: FAA Sheds Light on Local Drone Regulation with Updated Fact Sheet on the new FAA Fact Sheet, https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/f...n-of-Unmanned-Aircraft-Systems-Fact-Sheet.pdf and was curious if the FAA has resolved any of the overreaching state and local regulations.

For example Florida just updated Florida State 330.41 and included in that statute, Chapter 330 Section 41 - 2023 Florida Statutes - The Florida Senate :
4) PROTECTION OF CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE FACILITIES.—
(a) A person may not knowingly or willfully:
1. Operate a drone over a critical infrastructure facility;

It would seem that #1 above is in conflict with the FAA Fact Sheet but, before I get into that, note that Florida has designated some number of ports as critical infrastructure. One port has a beach, a park, two boat ramps, and multiple restaurants.

In the FAA Fact sheet contains the following:
States and local governments may not regulate in the fields of aviation safety or airspace efficiency but generally may regulate outside those fields. A state or local law is preempted if it is aimed at aviation safety or the efficient use of the airspace. But a law seeking to advance other objectives is generally not covered by field preemption unless it impairs the reasonable use by UAS of the airspace.

Using Florida as an example, is the 330.41 statute a violation of FAA or federal sovereignty? Has the FAA actually litigated cases with states over airspace sovereignty? It would seem that the key sentence from the fact sheet, "But a law seeking to advance other objectives is generally not covered by field preemption unless it impairs the reasonable use by UAS of the airspace." might give Florida some leverage because they deemed ports, and other things, critical infrastructure.

P.S. There will be a few responses that will suggest that you go ahead and fly because the FAA owns the airspace. Note that I do not want to be the test case where Florida and the FAA sort out their differences while I am paying lawyers to stay out of jail.

CC'ing @Vic Moss
 
Thanks for sharing this
 
There are a lot of local and state regs that contradict FAA preemption. But as you mentioned, until they're removed or successfully challenged they remain on the books.
 
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Due to laziness on the part of the FAA, overstepping Lawmakers and politicians, and un-published and un-explained FAA regulations, Law enforcement, state and local, have become convinced that someone needs their permission to fly a drone. The opposite is true. I have watched webinars and heard others advocate having an ORM, Mission assignments, log books, maintenance records any any document pertaining to your flight out and available for any LEO to inspect while you are flying. The FAA needs to be very firm in stating that local municipalities, State government and building or property owners DO NOT OWN THE AIRSPACE. The solution for “critical infrastructure “ is simple. The cities and states can petition the FAA for a no fly zone. But if it’s off limits to drones, it should be off limits to ALL aircraft. There are already rules to stop bad actors.
State police cannot stop you in your car without a reason. They can’t roll up to an airport and ask to see a pilots flight plan or quiz him as to why he flew over the local mall at legal altitude. Homeowners can’t have someone arrested for photographing their home from 400 ft away from a public space. We deserve the same.
 
Due to laziness on the part of the FAA, overstepping Lawmakers and politicians, and un-published and un-explained FAA regulations, Law enforcement, state and local, have become convinced that someone needs their permission to fly a drone.
There are zero un-published or un-explained FAA regulations. None.

Whether or not local law enforcement follow actual FAA regulations or not is up to debate. LEOs should not be required to know every nuance of every law they're tasked with upholding. Especially something like UAS regulations. Most drone owners don't know the nuance, we can't expect local and state cops to do the same.


The opposite is true. I have watched webinars and heard others advocate having an ORM, Mission assignments, log books, maintenance records any any document pertaining to your flight out and available for any LEO to inspect while you are flying. The FAA needs to be very firm in stating that local municipalities, State government and building or property owners DO NOT OWN THE AIRSPACE.
It's not a matter of ownership, it's a matter of control. Some states give land owners ownership of the airspace above their property, but not control. So that's actually outside the FAA's jurisdiction. People need to understand the difference in ownership and control. Even if a person has "ownership" of the airspace above their land, they cannot keep aircraft out of it. Aircraft has "transitory rights", and those are not limited in elevation, either high or low.
The solution for “critical infrastructure “ is simple. The cities and states can petition the FAA for a no fly zone. But if it’s off limits to drones, it should be off limits to ALL aircraft.
Congress has directed to FAA/DOT to come up with a plan to allow for CI to be closed if warranted. But they haven't gone through the implementation aspect yet. That should come out Q4 of this year or Q1 of next year. Until that happens, states will continue to try and define their own CI airspace rules. But they can't be strictly enforced yet.
 
If ports and beaches are critical infrastructure and can’t be photographed by a drone operator, they need to collect cell phones and cameras at the gate and patrol the beaches for cameras.
I've never seen a beach considered CI.
 
There are a lot of local and state regs that contradict FAA preeminence. But as you mentioned, until they're removed or successfully challenged they remain on the book

I've never seen a beach considered CI.
What is lacking in Florida's law is a definition of what constitutes a Port. Is it all of the land owned by the (government controlled) port? Is it the water and nearby buildings? Just what is it? The Florida legislature just took the wording from lobbyists and included ports in the bill.

So, while we all know a beach is not critical infrastructure logically what we don't know is whether a beach controlled by a port is really critical infrastructure. This is what happens when port officials buy a lobbyist to get more control.

Here is a picture of critical infrastructure with the park, the beach, and RV sites and the boat ramp.

Jetty.Park.golden.hour.12.17.2022.small.jpg
 
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They can’t roll up to an airport and ask to see a pilots flight plan or quiz him as to why he flew over the local mall at legal altitude.
Actually, yes they can, and they do (although not often). Happened to me once in 30 years of flying.

Flight plan, schmite plan, that's certainly a red herring. But yes, they can (and do) ask for ID, other documents, and ask you questions. And yes, you are required to turn your documents over to law enforcement if asked for them.

It was a beautiful, sunny summer day, blue sky, gentle tailwinds, soft air. I had just flown away from busy Seattle and landed my Cessna at a quiet and familiar-to-me airport in northern Washington state, on the way to the rugged and wild Pacific Coast. I taxiied up to the gas pumps, shut down, parked the plane, hopped out, and made a beeline to a nearby toilet to take a leak, planning to fuel up after I properly defueled myself. I had just exited the loo, was (literally) zipping up my fly, and started walking back towards my plane parked 20 yards away. There were two uniformed "cops" standing in front of it, looking hostile, arms crossed, looking hard at me.

I walked up to them and gave them a big, friendly smile. "Howdy, gentlemen! Beautiful day, isn't it?" One barked at me: "Where did you just come from?" I gave him a bemused look, grinned and then pointed to the toilet that they had just watched me emerge from. There was a long pause, during which it became evident that they did not seem to appreciate my reply to the question.

He barked again, now pointing at me: "You came from Canada!" I laughed. Still smiling, I answered: "Canada? Hah, no. Seattle. Boeing Field. Really." I pointed to the southwest, in the general direction of Seattle, "Seattle, it's over there, that's where I came from." The two exchanged glances, looked from me to my plane, back at each other, and around the airport ramp. People were standing in nearby open hangars watching us.

Again, one cop barked at me, this time sounding less confident: "You just flew here from Canada and landed this plane, didn't you?" He leaned towards me, and added menacingly: "We have your radar track." I chuckled, and replied, "No, sir, you don't. Look, officer, with all due respect, you might have a radar track of somebody or something, but I can assure you, you do NOT have a radar track of me in this airplane coming from Canada. It's been years since I was in Canada. I just flew here from Seattle." Again, I point to the southwest: "Seattle, it's over there, you know? Canada..." I turn and point north. "Up there. If you'd like, I can show you my flight route from Seattle recorded on my plane's GPS right there" (I point to the plane's open door). They become quiet, step back, and start talking to each other quietly. I can hear someone in a nearby hangar laughing.

I continue: "Who are you guys, anyway? Can I see some ID, a badge or something?" The other cop turns to me and replies, politely and professionally, "We're CBP Officers - Customs and Border Patrol." He waves some ID in a holder, then he asks for my drivers license (which seemed odd, I figured he would want my Private Pilot Certificate, medical cert or some other pilot-ey thing).

I dig my Washington State drivers license out from my wallet and hold it up so he can see it. He reaches for it, and I pull back just enough so it's out of his reach. "Sir, please give me your ID." Firm, not threatening, professional, but clearly a little miffed. I pause for a moment, trying to remember the exact language of the regulation that says local, state and federal law enforcement officers can ask for your certificates and you must cooperate...I think to myself, you know, it's a lovely morning, I'm just getting started, I really want to go fly around the Olympic Peninsula for the next few hours, and this is not a hill I want to die on, especially since I know I am 100% in-the-right, I'm doing everything right and these clowns have no reason to hassle me. While it might be fun to tweak them a bit more, I recognize that they're just clueless fools trying to get through their work day.

So I take a deep breath, smile again, step forward, and hand him my drivers license, adding "Of course, officer. Here you go. I also have my FAA private pilot certificate, medical certificate, federal and state aircraft registration certificates, airworthiness certificate, and a stack of other paperwork making everything legal and compliant, too, if you would like to see any of them...I'll happily cooperate and show you any required documents. But for the record, I am not surrendering them to you. Sir." He shoots me a look, takes my drivers license and says "That's OK, the ID is all." They walk away and confer for a few minutes. I stand in the shade of my plane's wing, waiting patiently. It really is a beautiful day to fly.

The cop who took my license walks back to me. The other cop has wandered off somewhere out of my view. "Sir, CPB tracked a plane from Canadian airspace that landed here right when you did." I shrugged, and said "Maybe so, officer. But you know, there were other aircraft that landed right before me, and right after me. Maybe you tracked one of them? You want to see the chart in my plane, showing my course from Seattle? I can show you my GPS track easily. You could call Boeing Field and check with the tower there, they'll have ATC recordings of me calling them and departing Seattle about 45 minutes ago, and with the speed of my plane, it would be physically impossible for me to reach Canadian airspace in that time...I can even give you the phone number of the Boeing Field control tower, go ahead and call them." Long pause, no response. "It's a beautiful day, lots of airplanes flying around and using this airport, you know?" Mmmm...

He nodded, handed me my drivers license, said, "Thank you sir for your cooperation. Have a safe flight out there today", turned and walked away. I fueled up the plane, pushed back and started getting ready to depart. Before I did, I hopped out of the plane and walked down the row of nearby hangars. There was a guy standing in one who had watched the encounter. "Those guys are clueless," he told me. He explained that when planes fly here from the San Juan Islands (nearby, very close to Canada) CBP mistakenly think the plane has secretly popped up and entered US airspace from Canada, and they hassle people landing here all the time. He pointed to a hanger down the line. The CBP guys were interviewing someone there who had landed right behind me (probably coming from the San Juan Islands). We both shrugged.

I went back to my plane, jumped in, ran through the checklist, fired up, and departed to the west. It was a beautiful day to fly.
 
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