FAA Confirms Shooting at an sUAV (a.k.a "drone") is a Federal Crime

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Andy Johnson-Laird, Apr 17, 2016.

  1. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    The FAA cites to the long-standing Title 18 of the United States Code, section 32 (See https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/32 ) which makes it a Federal crime, with a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, to shoot down an sUAV either maliciously or using any "drone defender" kind of technology that disrupts the command and control link or shoots nets at an sUAV:

    (1) sets fire to, damages, destroys, disables, or wrecks any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or any civil aircraft used, operated, or employed in interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce;​

    This section also makes it a Federal crime, with a penalty of up to five years in prison, to interfere with an sUAS pilot "engaged in the authorization operation of such aircraft" (see 18 USC 32 (a) (5).):

    (5) interferes with or disables, with intent to endanger the safety of any person or with a reckless disregard for the safety of human life, anyone engaged in the authorized operation of such aircraft or any air navigation facility aiding in the navigation of any such aircraft;​

    Might be worth having a laminated copy of this section of the U.S. code in your flight bag. I wonder what happens when, given you're operating under, say, a Section 333 and have a properly issued COA, local law enforcement attempts to take your transmitter away from you? Are they exempt?

    I suspect if you talk to an aviation lawyer (and I'm not one and do not intend to play one on the Internet) the key phrase in Section 32 is "authorized operation."

    EDIT #2: Gary has persuaded me that I was misreading (1), so I have deleted my first edit. (There no longer appears to be a way of using "strike out" on the new forum software.)

    Andy
    ----------
    Forensic Software & sUAV / Drone Analyst : Photographer : Videographer : Pilot (Portland, Oregon, USA): Trees=2, Ground=1, Props=11. :(
    The Ground Is The Limit™
    ---------- Forensic Drone Analyst : Forensic sUAV Analyst : Forensic Unmanned Aircraft Analyst : Forensic Drone Expert
     
    #1 Andy Johnson-Laird, Apr 17, 2016
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  2. Gary Haynes

    Gary Haynes Administrator
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    Andy I see section one as having two parts. It has an 'or' in the sentence. So each part should stand alone.
     
  3. Andy Johnson-Laird

    Andy Johnson-Laird Administrator
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    True. The first part before the alternative "or" references "special aircraft jurisdiction," which is in turn defined as:

    (2) "special aircraft jurisdiction of the United
    States" includes any of the following aircraft in flight:
    (A) a civil aircraft of the United States.
    (B) an aircraft of the armed forces of the United
    States.
    (C) another aircraft in the United States.
    (D) another aircraft outside the United States --
    (i) that has its next scheduled destination or
    last place of departure in the United States, if
    the aircraft next lands in the United States;
    (ii) on which an individual commits an offense
    (as defined in the Convention for the Suppression
    of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft) if the aircraft
    lands in the United States with the individual
    still on the aircraft; or
    (iii) against which an individual commits an
    offense (as defined in subsection (d) or (e) of
    article I, section I of the Convention for the
    Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of
    Civil Aviation) if the aircraft lands in the United
    States with the individual still on the aircraft.
    (E) any other aircraft leased without crew to a
    lessee whose principal place of business is in the
    United States or, if the lessee does not have a
    principal place of business, whose permanent residence
    is in the United States.

    See http://fsims.faa.gov/wdocs/other/federal_aviation_acts/y_103-272_ch465.pdf , section 46501.​

    That would appear to cover sUAV as "a civil aircraft" -- I'm not quite sure what "another aircraft in the United States" might be (see (2)(C) above)?

    So that brings us to the definition of "civil aircraft":

    What is a civil UAS operation?

    A civil UAS operation is any UAS activity that does not meet the criteria for public UAS operations or model aircraft operations. A civil UAS operation is authorized in two ways:

    a. A grant of exemption issued by the FAA in accordance with Section 333 of public Law 12-95 and a civil COA issued by the FAA or

    b. A Special Airworthiness Certificate in the Experimental or Restricted Category.

    See https://www.faa.gov/uas/faq/#qn29 .​

    There is a link on the preceding page to https://www.faa.gov/uas/civil_operations/


    Civil Operations (Non-Governmental)

    Any operation that does not meet the statutory criteria for a public aircraft operation is considered a civil aircraft operation and must be conducted in accordance with all FAA regulations applicable to the operation.

    There are presently two methods of gaining FAA authorization to fly civil (non-governmental) UAS:

    1. Section 333 Exemption – a grant of exemption in accordance with Section 333 AND a civil Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA); this process may be used to perform commercial operations in low-risk, controlled environments. Instructions for filing a petition for exemption are available here.

    2. Special Airworthiness Certificate (SAC) – applicants must be able to describe how their system is designed, constructed, and manufactured, including engineering processes, software development and control, configuration management, and quality assurance procedures used, along with how and where they intend to fly.

    a. SAC in the experimental category – may be used for civil aircraft to perform research and development, crew training, and market surveys; however, carrying persons or property for compensation or hire is prohibited. FAA Order 8130.34 is used by FAA inspectors to issue experimental airworthiness certificates and special flight permits to UAS. For more information, please contact the Airworthiness Certification Service, AIR-113, at 202-267-1575.

    If the FAA determines the project does not present an unreasonable safety risk, the local FAA Manufacturing Inspection District Office will issue a Special Airworthiness Certificate in the Experimental Category with operating limitations applicable to the particular UAS.

    b. A UAS type and airworthiness certificate in the Restricted Category (14 CFR § 21.25(a)(2) and § 21.185) for a special purpose or a type certificate for production of the UAS under 14 CFR § 21.25(a)(1) or § 21.17. For more information, please contact the Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office at 562-627-5200.​

    Therefore I think you're right Gary. The limitation is not to aircraft operating in "air commerce."

    Andy
    ----------
    Forensic Software & sUAV / Drone Analyst : Photographer : Videographer : Pilot (Portland, Oregon, USA): Trees=2, Ground=1, Props=11. :(
    The Ground Is The Limit™
    ---------- Forensic Drone Analyst : Forensic sUAV Analyst : Forensic Unmanned Aircraft Analyst : Forensic Drone Expert
     
  4. Jason Toth

    Jason Toth Active Member

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    I say shoot it down, ya should have prior permission to operate over the property, if not your not doing your due diligence & should be taught a lesson :)
     

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