Tuesday, April 13, 2021

S 600 Introduced - Drone Integration and Zoning Act

Last month Sen Lee (R,UT) introduced S 600, the Drone Integration and Zoning Act. The bill would provide for State and authority over ‘civil unmanned aircraft systems’ within 200-ft above the ground. Currently, sole jurisdiction over US airspace rest with the Federal Aviation Administration. This bill is nearly identical to S 2607 that was introduced by Lee in the last session, no action was taken on the earlier bill.

Moving Forward

Lee is a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee to which this bill was assigned for consideration. This means that he may have enough influence to have this bill considered in Committee. Because this bill makes a fundamental change in the regulation of aircraft operations in the United States, I suspect that there will be substantial bipartisan opposition to this bill. I do not expect to see the bill considered in Committee and it would certainly not make it to the floor of the Senate.


The single largest problem with this bill is that while it gives some regulatory and enforcement authority to State, local governments, and tribal governments, it does not provide an exception to numerous federal regulations that would be violated by interfering with the operation of an unmanned aircraft system in flight. Thus, the regulatory authority provided by this bill would severely limited by the inability to enforce those regulations upon an aircraft in flight.

Until a consensus is reached about when and how a UAS differs from aircraft operated by a pilot inside the aircraft and how that would allow for lawful seizer of control of the aircraft in flight, most attempts at regulating where and when UAS operate are going to be doomed to failure.

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