Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Commercial operation of UAS in the US: Some clarifications on the case Texas Equusearch vs FAA

Last week the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued an order concerning the case Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team vs FAA. To some, who deny the authority of the FAA to regulate such flights, this order comes as a confirmation of their view (click here for an example). At the same time, the FAA suggests that the order does not affect its regulatory authority. Therefore, a few clarifications on the consequences of the order are necessary.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Single European Sky or Single European Snail? EU Commission sends letters of formal notice to 18 States to accelerate implementation of common airspace management

The EU Commission has sent letters of formal notice, i.e. official requests for explanations, to 18 EU Member States (MS) regarding the long delay in the implementation of the Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) established under the Single European Sky initiative (SES). A letter of formal notice under the EU law is the first step of the EU law infringement procedure against MS.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

On the legality of commercial asteroid mining and the purposefulness of related domestic legislation

It was reported recently that two US Senators introduced a bill to establish and protect property rights on asteroid resources. Leaving aside that this bill is unlikely to become a law, following the fate of similar legislative efforts in the past, and that even if it becomes a law it will not be technologically possible to implement it in the new future, it is worth examining whether such piece of legislation would conform to international space law.
The following thoughts are without prejudice to possible inadequacies of the current legal regime and the need of reform to encourage technological and economic developments in the space sector.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

NTSB denies reconsideration of flight TWA 800 investigation

The US National Transportation Board (NTSB) denied last week a petition for reconsideration of its findings and determination of the probable cause of the flight TWA 800 accident, which occurred on 17 July 1996 shortly after departure from New York’s JFK airport. After four years of investigation, the NTSB concluded that the accident’s probable cause was fuel ignition in the aircraft’s central fuel tank. However, there were claims that the aircraft had been shot down by a missile (click here for an example). In support of the latter view, a group called “TWA 800 Project” asked the NTSB in 2013 to reopen the accident investigation based on a new analysis of the radar evidence and witness summaries collected at the time of the accident. The NTSB rejected the petition in its entirety as unfounded.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

FAA releases interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has released an interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft established by Congress in the FAA 2012 Modernization and Reform Act and called for comments thereon. As stated in the document’s summary, the FAA clarifies that model aircraft must satisfy the criteria in the Act to qualify as model aircraft and to be exempt from future FAA rulemaking action; if a model aircraft operator endangers the safety of the National Airspace System, the FAA has the authority to take enforcement action against those operators for those safety violations.