MLA Blogs


Welcome to Plane-ly Spoken. Our knowledgeable contributors will discuss topics such as recent decisions and litigation, legal trends, airworthiness directives, regulatory interpretations, FAA counsel opinions, and FAA enforcement actions on a consistent basis that will provide guidance to cover any eventuality. We look forward to sharing with you.

UAS: Section 333 Exemption Process: What Has Changed And How Can You Take Advantage Of It?

We would like to thank those of you who were able to join us for our Webinar on April 21, 2015.  We were happy we could provide you with an update on the recent changes to the Section 333 approval process, blanket COA grants, and the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Operation of Small UAS. 

For those of you who could not make it, you can find a copy of the presentation at this link.  If you have any questions or would like further information, don’t hesitate to contact us, and keep following the blog for the announcement of our next webinar. 

Topics: UAS

UAS Symposium - So You Want to Be in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Business: One Year Later

June 11, 2015
9:30 am – 4:30 pm EDT
NTSB Conference Center
420 L'Enfant Plaza, 10th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20594



More ›

UAS: Some People Never Learn . . . .

Let's make believe for a minute. . . .You've robbed a bank and had one of your buddies film it on his iPhone.  After making a getaway, you post the video to YouTube where it becomes an instant sensation.

The local FBI agent, while surfing the internet, views your video, tracks you down and arrests you.

Your defense at trial is that all you were doing is exercising your First Amendment right of free speech and that your arrest is a violation of the protections offered under the Constitution. More ›

Topics: UAS

One Hour Delivery? Not Any Time Soon . . . .

Imagine for a moment that you are at home working on a project in your garage, when you realize that you don't have the right size socket wrench.  You get out your phone, and after a few taps, your wrench is on its way.  Up to this point in our story, you could do all of these things today.  What if, however, the wrench can be delivered to your driveway by a drone in less than 15 minutes from the time you bought it?  Is this the future? More ›

Topics: UAS

Freedom of Speech and YouTube . . . or Not

There was a great deal of controversy last month when some individuals who had posted videos of what appeared to be illegal UAS operations began receiving letters from the FAA.  This, in turn, caused a large number of people to take to social media to complain that the FAA was violating people's First Amendment rights by sending those letters.

In light of the controversy, the FAA has decided to set a new National Policy to be followed by all Flight Standards District Office Aviation Safety Inspectors.  This Notice, entitled Aviation-Related Videos or Other Electronic Media on the Internet, is intended to give guidance on what actions should be taken once the FAA is notified that there are videos or electronic media that depict any aircraft operation that is "contrary to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) or statute."  More ›

Topics: UAS



UAS Operations and the
Section 333 Exemption Process:
What Has Changed, And How Can
You Take Advantage Of It?

April 21, 2015
1:30 – 2:30 pm EST


Summary exemptions?  Blanket COAs?  Expedited timetables?  There have been major changes in the Section 333 exemption process.  As a result of these changes, the FAA more than doubled the number of certificated UAS operators in just two weeks. 

Despite what you may have heard, however, the FAA did not give blanket authority to anyone who wants to fly.  There is still an exemption process, and all commercial operators still need specific authorization from the FAA to fly legally.    More ›

Haste Makes Progress

Over the past two and a half weeks, more than 75 Petitions for Exemption have been granted.  This means that in a 17-day period, the number of authorized commercial UAS operators in the United States has nearly tripled. 

 As a result of this effort, for the first time, the backlog of petitions is actually decreasing.  In fact, some of the most recent petitions were pending for 120 days or less, which was the goal originally set by the FAA last summer when the Exemption process was opened up to UAS operators.  

How has this been done?  The answer is "Summary Grant of Exemption."   More ›

Everything Changes and Nothing Changes!

Plane-ly Spoken was created and is maintained by the Aviation Practice at McKenna Long & Aldridge.  As some of you who follow the legal community may already be aware, our firm will be merging in the near future with the international legal powerhouse, Dentons.  The merger will allow us to greatly expand our presence both in the United States and globally.

Apart from the firm name change, readers of Plane-ly Spoken should not notice any difference. Moreover, those of you who are our clients will notice none either.  Same lawyers.  Same phone numbers.  Different firm name.  The blog will still have all the same contributors.  We will still bring you the latest news and updates on all things aviation and UAS.  Plane-ly Spoken will still have a viewpoint on the issues, and we will still inject our analysis with humor and irreverence. 

In keeping with this commitment to our readers, it is our privilege to announce that we will be hosting another in our extremely popular series of webinars on April 21, 2015.  There have been a number of major developments, both publicly and behind the scenes, affecting the Section 333 Exemption process.  We will be bringing you up to date on those changes, and what they mean for those who want to be involved in the UAS business before the release of the final Small UAS Rules go into effect sometime in 2017.

So, save the date, because a formal invitation to the free webinar will be sent out shortly.

The Airline Symposium Webinar Series - "Airline Family Assistance & The Role of Station Personnel"

Over the last nine years, The Airline Symposium held annually in February, has continued to grow in both numbers and profile.  In order to bring you the benefit of the Symposium all year long, we are pleased to announce The Airline Symposium Webinar Series.

Working with Deborah Thompson, a recognized expert in airline emergency response and family assistance, MLA will present a series of one-hour webinars "zooming in" on discreet subjects in the area.

The first of the series will focus on the hours immediately following an incident/accident and the role and response of station personnel.  More ›

Topics: Aviation

UAS Symposium - So You Want to Be in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Business: One Year Later

June 11, 2015 - 9:30 am – 4:30 pm

NTSB Conference Center
420 L'Enfant Plaza 10th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20594 

On June 26, 2014, McKenna Long & Aldridge convened its first UAS Symposium.  Attended by over 200 registrants, we now find ourselves one year later.  The Federal Aviation Administration has been accepting and acting on exemption petitions, civil/commercial UAS operation have begun and the FAA has published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing an entirely new regulatory regime for the civil/commercial UAS industry.

This Symposium will, one year later, address where we are and where we're going.  In addition to the following, subjects, you will hear from experts from the FAA, the NTSB, the UAS industry and the legal profession on not only how to get into the commercial UAS business, but what to expect in the next 12 to 18 months. More ›