Insuring Commercial Drones: Liability or Opportunity?

Developments in drone technology are often heralded as having the potential to change the landscape of business operations, most prominently in the consumer goods shipping sector. Yet, the development of federal regulation and guidance on the commercial use of drones lags behind the pace of innovation. Meanwhile, litigation highlighting the common law tort risks inherent in drone operations has been percolating in jurisdictions around the country. It is no surprise, then, that users of the technology face major uncertainty in terms of their exposure to liabilities, both known and unknown.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris attorneys Holden Benon and Matthew Decker, please visit the Insurance Journal website.

Suez Canal Reopens, but Delay Damages Still an Obstacle

Shippers whose cargoes have been delayed by the grounding of the container ship Ever Given will likely face obstacles in recovering damages caused by the delay. The Ever Given, which is one of the world’s largest container ships at over 400 meters in length, ran aground on March 23, 2021, while transiting northbound in the Suez Canal, completely blocking all traffic. The 120-year-old Suez Canal is one of the world’s most transited waterways, and the consequences of the multiday disruption to ocean carrier traffic will be felt by shippers and consumers alike. To minimize the impact of delays caused by the Ever Given, some vessel operators with ships waiting to enter the canal rerouted ships around the Horn of Africa, which increases their operating costs and adds considerable time to each voyage, while other vessel operators stayed put, hoping the Ever Given would be refloated quickly.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Walter Rand Transportation Center in New Jersey Receives $250M Redevelopment Funding

On February 17th, New Jersey Governor Murphy, Congressman Norcross, Senate President Sweeney and local and county officials announced $250 Million for the redevelopment of the Walter Rand Transportation Center (WRTC) in Camden, NJ. This will be the center’s first major renovation since opening in 1989.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris partner Brad Molotsky, please visit the Duane Morris Project Development/Infrastructure/P3 Blog.

FAA Issues Two Key Changes to Drone Regulations, Opening Door to Commercial Use

On December 28, 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced two major changes to existing federal regulations governing the flight of Unmanned Aircraft (UA), better known as drones. These changes represent the latest in the FAA’s ongoing efforts to integrate drones into the existing National Airspace System, and, in turn, facilitate the implementation of drones in commercial settings. The new rules will become effective 60 days from the date of their publication in the Federal Register, which is anticipated to occur in January 2021.


To read more about this update see our recent Alert, which can be found at:

Auto Industry Implications for 3D Printing

For as long as cars have existed, three fundamental truths appeared to be eternal. First, every car contains safety critical components, second these components are mostly metal and third, they are manufactured by one of two methods—stamping or cold forming. These eternal truths always led to an equally durable legal reality, that if the safety critical component fails the manufacturer will be liable to the injured party. It’s hard to think of a more trite and dependable set of principles. But these timeless precepts are about to become disrupted as the automotive industry continues to explore the innovation of 3D printing.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partners Sean Burke and Alex Geisler, please visit the website.

NHTSA Paves the Way for Further Autonomous Vehicle Research on Public Roads

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued an interim final rule and request for comment on December 31, 2020, which establishes a program for manufacturers of domestically produced vehicles and equipment to become exempted from Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for research, investigation, demonstrations or training involving nonconforming vehicles.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

FAA Waiver Permits Use of Drones For Long Distance Logistics Flights

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations, better known as the “Part 107 Regulations,” impose strict guidelines for the operation of drones in the United States.  Among these regulations, for example, are requirements that drones be operated only within the unaided line of sight of a designated visual observer, and prohibiting the flight of drones over people not directly participating in their operation.

On May 27, 2020, however, the FAA issued a first-of-its kind Part 107 waiver to Novant Health, Inc. in partnership with Zipline, a leading drone logistics company.  The waiver lifts the usual visual line of sight and overhead requirements, thus permitting the companies to use long-distance drone flights to deliver personal protective equipment and medical supplies to healthcare facilities and workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in North Carolina.

While the FAA’s waiver is narrow in scope, it marks an important development in drone regulation, and one that, if successful, could certainly pave the way for the wide-scale implementation of drones in the logistics industry.

Avoiding Improper Use Of CARES Act Airport Grants

Like much of the transportation industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s airports are experiencing significant losses in revenue. Airports Council International predicts that the U.S. airport industry will lose $23 billion as a result of COVID-19. Title XII of Division B of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act addresses these significant economic disruptions by providing approximately $10 billion to U.S. airports “to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency.” The funding is somewhat discretionary, with a requirement that it be used for any purpose for which airport revenues may lawfully be used, so long as the use of funds is related to the airport,

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris attorneys Alan C. Kessler, Jamie E. Brown and Rachel Kubasak, please visit the firm website.

American Association of Railroads Responds to COVID-19 Crisis

Recent comments from American Association of Railroads (AAR) CEO Ian Jefferies highlight the critical role freight rail carriers have played in shoring up America’s national supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic.[1]  Mr. Jefferies noted key developments in the government’s response to COVID-19 that have allowed freight railroads to continue operations, and gave special recognition to the contributions made by railroad employees during this national emergency.

Freight railroads deliver a wide variety of goods, including consumer goods, commodities, chemical products, and raw materials to virtually all corners of the nation.  As the COVID-19 pandemic has ratcheted up demand, freight rail carriers and their employees have had to work overtime to ensure an uninterrupted supply.  To that end, from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) published Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce, advising state, local, and industry regulators that freight rail workers should be considered “essential” and thus, exempt from state “stay-at-home” orders put into place.

Mr. Jefferies credits organizations such as the National League of Cities, National Governors Association, National Association of Counties, and the U.S. Conference of Mayors for effectively communicating CISA’s recommendations to governments at all levels to ensure railroad workers can continue their vital work.  And, in order to safeguard essential railroad employees, the AAR has adopted the CDC’s Guidance on Critical Infrastructure Workers, which implements measures such as social distancing, regular cleaning and sanitation of work environments, and regular mask usage.  Measures such as these, in conjunction with the railroad industry’s commitment to service, will ensure a steady supply of much-needed goods to businesses and consumers nationwide, even during these unprecedented times.

[1] See Ian Jefferies on Railroads and the Coronvavirus Pandemic, C-SPAN Apr. 14, 2020, available at; see also Coronavirus – Our freight rail network also delivering for America during COVID-19 pandemic, Ian Jefferies,

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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