Wednesday, February 21, 2018

CFATS Authorization – Protection from Drones

This is the second in a continuing series of blog posts on my proposed changes to the CFATS authorization. The current authorization for the program ends on December 18th, 2018. These posts address some of the language that I would like to see in any re-authorization bill. Earlier posts in the series include:

The Drone Problem

The growing sophistication and ready availability of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) provides unique challenges in protecting critical infrastructure. This is particularly true in the case of high-risk chemical facilities. Small UAS can be used to conduct detailed reconnaissance of facilities before a physical attack is initiated and increasing payload size means that they may be used a delivery method for improvised explosive devices. The increasing battlefield sophistication in the use of UAS by organizations like ISIS almost ensures that the technology will be used by terrorists.

Defending against UAS attacks in the United States presents two separate, but closely related, issues for the facility owner. First, legally (18 USC 32) it is not permissible to interfere with an aircraft in flight and the FAA and Congress have made clear that the federal government considers all but the very smallest UAS to be aircraft. In large part because of that legal restriction the technology needed to identify, track and take control of UAS intruding upon the airspace of a high-risk chemical plant has not been robustly developed.

Protection Against Drones

With the above in mind, I would suggest that the following language be added to any CFATS reauthorization bill:

Sec. 631 Protection Against Unmanned Aircraft

(a) Restricted Air Space – The Secretary will work with the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration to ensure that each high-risk chemical facility in Tier I and Tier II with release hazard chemicals of interest will be declared a National Defense Airspace and in accordance with 14 CFR 99.7 the FAA will issue appropriate Special Security Instructions restricting operations of unmanned aircraft (UA) within the area.

(b) The Secretary will:

(1) establish procedures to allow facilities in Tier III and Tier IV, and Tier I and Tier II facilities not included in (a) above, to petition to have their facilities provided the protections outlined in (a) above;
(2) work with the Administrator to establish standards to consider such petitions while providing minimal interference in the operation of the National Airspace.

(c) Actions to enforce special security instructions.

(1) Notwithstanding provisions of 18 USC 32, owner/operators of chemical facilities that have been declared to be a National Defense Airspace are authorized to take actions to stop a UA from violating the Special Security Instructions issued by the FAA, to include forcing the aircraft to land. Any UA recovered will be turned over to the FBI for investigation.

(2) The Secretary will direct the Science and Technology Directorate to aid in the development of technology for the tracking, identification and control of UA to be certified under 6 USC Part G.

This would, of course, require the addition of a definition of UA to §621. The easiest way to do that would be to add the FAA definition of UA from 14 CFR 107.3.

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