The potential uses of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the construction industry continue to expand as new technologies enter the market and construction companies realize UAS can perform unique tasks at tremendous cost savings. The full technological capabilities of UAS are, however, limited by law for public safety reasons. UAS share airspace with traditional passenger, military and cargo aircraft, and are potential hazards for humans below. The risk of potential catastrophic collisions has led to a careful approach to the adoption of this technology.
All U.S. airspace is exclusively regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and therefore, most drone regulation originates from this agency. Many states and localities have also enacted additional limits on UAS operations, and many of these nonfederal regulations are presently on unsure footing after a federal court ruling in Singer v. Newton invalidated a local regulation that conflicted with FAA regulations.
What is clear is that all commercial UAS operations must comply with FAA regulations. Any drone operation conducted by any private company, even through use of an employee’s personal drone, would constitute commercial operation subject to regulation.