D.C. Circuit Upholds Drone Remote ID Rule, Dismissing Constitutional and Procedural Challenges

On July 29, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued its opinion in RaceDayQuads, LLC v. Dickson, upholding the Federal Aviation Administration’s Remote ID Rule for drones.

The FAA had initially promulgated the Remote ID Rule as part of a package of sweeping updates to existing drone regulations in January 2021.  In terms of its effect, the Remote ID Rule requires that all in-flight drones use radio frequencies to continuously emit: (1) a unique ID number; (2) latitude, longitude, geometric altitude, and velocity; (3) the latitude, longitude, and geometric altitude of the drone’s control station; (4) a time mark; and (4) any applicable “emergency status” notification – which indicates issues such as low fuel or a low battery.   For these reasons, the Rule has often been referred to as a “digital license plate” requirement for drones, and it has been heralded as a means to further integrate drones into the national public airspace and, in turn, pave the way for expanded commercial uses.

In March of 2021, Tyler Brennan, a former Air Force pilot and drone enthusiast, along with his drone retail business RaceDayQuads, LLC, filed a lawsuit seeking to have the Remote ID Rule vacated on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.  These Plaintiffs broadly asserted that the Rule’s broadcast requirement would amount to “constant, warrantless governmental surveillance in violation of the Fourth Amendment.”  The Plaintiffs also advanced various procedural challenges to the method by which the FAA had promulgated the Rule.

Ultimately, the D.C. Circuit denied each of these arguments.  The Court reasoned that “drone pilots generally lack any reasonable expectation of privacy in the location of their drone systems during flight” – particularly considering that drone flights occur almost exclusively in public, open air  and thus are generally visible to the public.  On that basis, the Court denied Plaintiffs’ constitutional challenge, holding that the “limited, local, real-time information sharing the Rule requires,” which does not include any personal identifiers, but instead requires the disclosure of only a unique ID number and the location of operation, “is a far cry from the continuous surveillance the Supreme Court has held violates reasonable expectations of privacy.”  The Court also denied Plaintiffs’ procedural challenges, finding that the Rule was not “arbitrary and capricious,” as the Plaintiffs had alleged.

It remains to be seen whether the Remote ID Rule will face Supreme Court scrutiny.  If the Rule stands, it will represent a key step forward in terms of integrating drones into the national airspace, and open the door for businesses to expand the scope of how drones can be used in the commercial setting.

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 3DPrint.com 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.

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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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