Jonathan S. Ziss, Chair of the firm’s Aviation Litigation Practice Group, commented on the future of unmanned aerial vehicles in construction and the legal ramifications of their widespread adoption for an article published in Construction Dive.
Jonathan explained that many construction companies considered using drones on work sites, but chose not to seek individual permits because of former federal regulations. Now, these regulations have loosened, and been clarified. “Many more [construction companies] were waiting in the wings and were hesitant to commit [to using drones] because they didn’t quite understand what the legal ramifications would be, technically or practically speaking,” Jonathan told Construction Dive. The Federal Aviation Administration’s decision in the summer of 2016 to loosen restrictions on the use of UAVs, or drones, in construction should lead to more creative applications of the technology in the industry. “It settles the regulatory landscape and, as a result, it gives potential operators or users greater confidence in the legal environment that they are operating in,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan went on to explain that the FAA’s amendment to Section 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations would not be the definitive long-term ruling on the subject; rather, this change readies the way for further adjustments as the technology continues to develop. “Part 107 is written … to keep the lattice of regulation loose enough so that it’s going to be responsive to new [applications of existing technology] and, in particular, technologies that haven’t even been imagined yet,” Jonathan said. “They’re trying to not write their regulations specific to a technology because technology is evolving so quickly.”
In the field of aviation litigation, Jonathan has represented regional, national, and international air carriers, as well as under-wing service providers, municipal authorities, general aviation owners and pilots, and fixed base operators in connection with property and casualty liability litigation; he also acts as coverage counsel. A recognized authority on both professional liability and aviation law, Jonathan has served as a member of the Defense Research Institute’s Aviation Law Leadership Committee and has presented to peers and industry leaders on the intersections of drone technology, insurance, aviation, and the business of construction.