ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Third-party drone companies are helping U.S. businesses with filming, testing, spraying and much more. But before hiring someone to fly a drone on your behalf, it is wise to carefully consider the regulatory and risk-management questions that can arise as a result of the relationship, writes veteran LeClairRyan aviation attorney Mark A. Dombroff in a new post at CorporateComplianceInsights.com.
“Whenever drones are flown for commercial purposes—everything from wedding photography to inspection of industrial smokestacks—their use is subject to Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations,” writes Dombroff, a shareholder in the national law firm’s Alexandria office and co-leader of its aviation industry practice. “That means that companies, when they hire drone-operating vendors, need to carefully scrutinize those vendors’ compliance status.”
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In the post (“Lessons in Liability: Drones 101”), Dombroff discusses some of the risks in this area and offers four specific tips to help companies shield themselves from liability.
In today’s economy, he writes, companies are increasingly using drones for a wide range of purposes, such as inspecting gas pipelines, taking real estate photographs or “delivering” products as part of marketing campaigns. Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) even promise to improve safety in some circumstances. “What would you rather do,” the attorney writes, “climb a 200-foot tower or use a drone to conduct that inspection?”
Nonetheless, the prospect of UAS occasionally being involved in accidents is quite real, Dombroff notes. He points to three recent accidents in which drones were involved in collisions (with a U.S. Army Black Hawk Helicopter, fans sitting in the upper deck at a baseball stadium and a plane on its approach to an airport in Quebec).
The attorney also cites hypothetical “nightmare scenarios” involving lack of compliance on the part of drone pilots hired by a company. “A utility unknowingly hires an unlicensed, inexperienced drone operator to inspect some power lines,” he writes. “After the pilot hits a line and causes the drone to careen onto a nearby highway, a deadly traffic accident ensues. Could the utility be sued? Absolutely.”
Before hiring a vendor for drone-related services, Dombroff advises, companies should consider taking the following steps:
In the conclusion to the piece, Dombroff, an avid drone pilot himself, reiterates his belief in the benefits of the technology, but also underscores the importance of following the rules. “U.S. aviation already has an incredible track record on safety,” he writes. “I believe our system will successfully integrate drones into its existing safety/compliance methodologies in relatively short order. Nonetheless, companies need to take prudent steps to protect themselves from any potential liability that could accrue when drones take to the skies on their behalf.”
The full article is available at
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