AUVSI: California’s new law harmful to UAS development

By Patrick C. Miller | September 03, 2015

The heads of two national organizations that support development of the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry came out sharply against legislation passed by the California Legislature intended to protect privacy.

Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Systems International (AUVSI) and Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), issued a statement calling Senate Bill 142 an “unnecessary, innovation-stifling and job-killing proposal.”

The bill was passed Aug. 28 and sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature. It states that: “A person wrongfully occupies real property and is liable for damages…if, without express permission of the person or entity with the legal authority to grant access or without legal authority, he or she operates an unmanned aircraft or unmanned aircraft system less than 350 feet above ground level within the airspace overlaying the real property.”

In their response to the bill, the two organizations said that the “Supreme Court long ago ruled that property rights do not extend infinitely into the sky. In other words, only the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can regulate airspace; states and municipalities cannot.”

In addition, AUVSI and CEA said “the legislation does not contain any commercial, research or educational exemption—a serious concern as major companies are poised to invest billions in this technology and provide exciting new services to consumers. And the 350-foot flight limit SB 142 would impose is arbitrary, rather than based on the realities of UAS operation.”

Wynne and Shapiro said that because the FAA is in the process of developing regulations to incorporate UAS into the national airspace, “The California State Legislature should not disrupt this process with artificial statutory restrictions while the FAA process moves toward a conclusion. We hope Governor Brown will recognize the overreach of the Legislature and allow this flourishing industry to succeed and thrive in California."

AUVSI is leading and CEA is a supporting member of the UAS safety campaign "Know Before You Fly," which provides prospective UAS operators with the information and guidance they need to fly safely and responsibly.


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