As I’ve stressed repeatedly – and focussed on at length in a law school class I taught on UAS – understanding airspace rules is one of the most important aspects of flying a UAS. To that end, the FAA is developing tools for UAS operators such as the UAS Data Deliver System and a website to request an Airspace Waiver/Authorization under 14 CFR 107. Jim Moore of the AOPA discusses this in more detail in an article entitled FAA Begins Drone Map Release.
A friend and colleague, Jon Rupprecht, wrote a great article about how airspace and other issues will affect pizza delivery and Amazon Prime. It’s a great article and I encourage you to read it. He discusses the various airspace impediments to simple neighborhood delivery. In the end, it will be up to the FAA to develop a system that allows for delivery in restricted airspace, in populated neighborhoods, and most importantly with the use of “swarms” (i.e.: multiple UAS launched and controlled by a single operator). He shows a map of Phoenix and illustrates how Amazon Prime will have trouble delivering in the areas around its distribution centers in Phoenix based on current airspace rules.
I’ll end on a light note with a story from Randy Spencer’s Open Mike. NOTE: THIS IS SATIRE AND NOT A REAL CASE! Entitled The Flying Trapizza: Court Addresses, For The First Time, CGL Coverage For A Drone, it chronicles an insurance carrier that denied coverage for a pizza place in New Hampshire when a pizza released early during a drone delivery and landed on someone’s Tesla and then hit his face. The insurance company denied coverage under its aircraft exclusion and the case went to “trial.”
I spent hours looking for information about this case after seeing what appeared to be a legit article about it in Forbes (it has since been removed after the author presumably realized it was not a real case, this is the cached version from Google). I couldn’t find anything, and finally emailed the author of Coverage Opinions, who told me my legal research class wasn’t in vain. I give him credit for a vivid imagination and for writing a fictional case that conveys some serious issues relating to UAS. While satire, it does highlight what I’ve said about ensuring you have appropriate insurance coverage. Great article and good takeaways, even if satire!