In a city like Austin which recently moved to the #1 city in the U.S. for startups, cutting edge technology is mainstream. From South by Southwest (SXSW) which brings together the convergence of music, independent films and emerging technologies to tech startups and larger enterprise companies, Austin is uniquely diversified to meet the future needs of Unmanned Aircraft Systems/Drones (UAS/Drones) manufacturers, stakeholders, and emerging industry players. The same might be said about other cities across Texas with strong research and development hubs. Throughout Texas, UAS/Drones are utilized in many different industries by McGinnis Lochridge’s clients including Agriculture, Oil, and Gas, Real Estate, Construction, Mapping, Photography, Recreation, and Entertainment.
McGinnis Lochridge, one of Austin’s largest headquartered firms (Austin Business Journal, 1/22/16), with an office in Houston serve all of Texas, the Southwest and across many industries and practices. The Firm has particular expertise in regulatory issues and navigating potential conflicts between Texas and Federal law.
The Firm’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Practice/Drones practice group is spearheaded by the firm’s attorneys, Austin Brister and Morgan Johnson.
Whether you are a hobbyist, manufacturer or commercial user of Drones/Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), there are legal issues facing this growing industry that have international implications. With the FAA poised to release its final rules on small UAS, there will be more legal, privacy, regulatory requirements and upcoming issues at both the state, federal and international level. Navigating the legal terrain will require both expertise and an understanding of the intersection of all of the interrelated issues. McGinnis Lochridge is positioned to handle these emerging issues of law.
While there are several federal laws and regulations governing the operation of UAS/drones within the FAA-administered national airspace system, many aspects of UAS/drone operations implicate state and local laws.
- In Texas, 241 Section 333 exemptions have been granted to Texas potential commercial operators.
- In 2013, the Texas legislature enacted laws specifically addressing UAS/drone operations which attempted to strike a balance between allowing legitimate commercial uses while respecting privacy and other legitimate concerns from potential misuse.
- Texas state law expressly defines what are permissible and impermissable commercial and governmental uses.
- Tension between FAA and state regulations
- Tort law implications of using the airspace immediately over one’s property
- Disputes between private individuals are likely to be governed by the Texas statutory regime as well as Texas common law principles (civil treprass, nuisance, negligence, personal injury laws).