Unmanned Systems—Drones


Unmanned Systems (“drones”) continue to rapidly evolve in multiple industries with numerous potential commercial applications. Clients who are using drones in their businesses, or allowing third parties to use them for their business or on their property, need to be aware of the relevant laws and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels; make sure that insurance, risk management, and risk transfer issues are addressed; implement “best practice” procedures on this topic; seek guidance regarding waivers or exemptions that will allow clients to legally conduct drone operations; and take steps to ensure safety and data protection concerns are properly addressed.

Cross-Sector Solutions

Due to their complexities and potential uses, unmanned systems overlap a number of practice areas and, accordingly, Blank Rome is positioned to anticipate and address these complex issues with a dedicated team of counselors experienced in both government and private sectors. For example, with the Final Rule on small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”) effective August 29, 2016, commercial drone usage is expected to dramatically increase across the United States, subject to certain flight prohibitions, such as those related to flights at night, over people, at altitudes above 400 feet, and beyond the operator’s line of sight. As a result, the Federal Aviation Administration anticipates substantial requests for waivers exempting certain operators from certain restrictions, and expects to receive waiver submissions immediately after the Final Rule goes into effect.

Blank Rome has extensive experience in gaining a multitude of industry waivers and exemption requests for clients, such as those related to the maritime industry. As a result, stakeholders intending to utilize the vast potential drones offer in respective markets rely on Blank Rome to navigate the legal risks associated with regulatory compliance and commercial endeavors involving drones.

Leaders and Innovators

Our team is composed of an authoritative cross-section of legal professionals to best address the full range of regulatory and legal issues related to unmanned systems across a wide spectrum of industries. Our attorneys bring depth and experience to meet the individual needs of each client seeking to employ unmanned systems technologies, while prudently evaluating risk and liability to minimize obstacles to successful use of drones.

Blank Rome values the important and wide-ranging relationships it maintains with government and industry, and with extensive backgrounds in areas such as national and maritime security, federal regulations, and government policy, are considered trailblazers and leaders in fields such as unmanned systems. Our attorneys are widely published and are regularly asked to speak on high-level panels addressing the myriad of issues that arise in connection with the drone industry. The Firm has been, and remains, at the forefront of developing the right legal approach to meet the needs of stakeholders in many industries, and is positioned to assist clients interested in taking advantage of the developing regulatory and technological landscape in areas such as:

Government Relations

Blank Rome Government Relations LLC has extensive and executive level experience in several industries, including a former Secretary of Energy and Chief Counsel with the Department of Transportation, and provides clients with insights into the legislative process, monitors and reports on legislation, and influences legislation pertaining to unmanned systems on behalf of our clients. Our government relations practice also works with agencies to secure their support for our clients’ requirements, obtains funding for clients in the appropriations process, and helps clients secure federal grants. We work in a bipartisan fashion to meet our clients’ objectives, including those related to unmanned systems.