Just a few years ago, we were introduced to the notion of military drone aircraft that could carry out bombing missions. Now we are presented on a regular basis with potential new domestic uses of drones. Amazon wants to use drones to deliver packages. Citizen enthusiasts are buying drones and flying them around our neighborhoods.
The Federal Aviation Administration had been under a deadline to develop rules for commercial drones to operate throughout the country’s airspace by October 2015. As of this writing, the FAA has not accomplished that task.
Currently, then, commercial drones can only be operated under exemptions granted by the FAA. The exemption requires that they be flown by a pilot with an FAA Airman Certificate and that they not be flown outside that pilot’s sight. That pretty much puts the plans of Amazon and others on hold. Model aircraft under 55 pounds can still be flown by owners, but only under an altitude of 400 feet, away from populated areas or airports, and always within site of the operator.
It is only a matter of time, however, until the drones are let loose. Manufacture and sale of drones have not been restricted, so they are out there. One has crashed on the White House Lawn, another on a tennis court at the U.S. Open, and another at the University of Kentucky’s football stadium. They will be flown, and the sooner guidelines and restrictions are implemented, the better.
Workplaces will also be subject to drone invasion. Many businesses will find uses of drones in their activities and on their premises. Also likely is the use of drones for commercial spying or other unauthorized flying within the properties of businesses. Employees, too, will most likely bring drones to work for the entertainment of their co-workers.
Employers will likely implement policies to regulate the use and presence of drones on their premises and within their “airspace.” Employees will be subject to policies that speak to their responsibilities to refrain from bringing drones to work and what to do in the event of an unauthorized drone presence. Occupational safety regulations will also be updated to address safe drone use to ensure workers are not endangered. Contact Labor Law Office, APC today to speak with a professional labor attorney in Sacramento for more information.
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