How to Navigate Laws for Drone Aircraft

This post originally appeared on the Louisiana Technology Park blog. 

Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) — commonly known as drones — have proliferated so rapidly in recent years that government regulators have struggled to keep up, creating a confusing mix of federal and local regulations governing how they’re operated for recreational and commercial use.

“This technology is moving so fast it seems like something is changing — the laws or the technology — monthly,” says lawyer Jennifer Lee, who focuses on business and corporate law at Chehardy Sherman Williams in New Orleans and who has advised numerous companies that operate drones.

UAS have been employed for tasks including mapping, agriculture and disaster response, and the fast growth is expected to continue.

A 2013 study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International estimated that the integration of UAS into the national airspace would have an overall economic impact of more than $13 billion from 2015 through 2017, and an economic impact of more than $82 billion between 2015 and 2025. The report forecast that drones would create more than 70,000 new jobs from 2015 through 2017. “It could change the economy,” Lee says.

Lee and Franz Borghardt, a Baton Rouge criminal defense attorney and LSU Law School instructor, offered their insights into the emerging legal issues surrounding drones during a recent Tech Park Academy workshop at the Louisiana Technology Park. Here are some of their suggestions for those interested in joining this growing area.

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