Uniform Law Commission proposes #drones flying below 200 feet can be declared as trespassing on private property #quadcopters
“A person operating an unmanned aircraft is liable to a landowner or lessee for per se trespass when the person, without consent, intentionally causes the unmanned aircraft to enter into the airspace below 200 feet above the surface of land or below 200 feet above improvements built upon the surface of the land.”
Exclusions include, for example, “conduct protected by the First Amendment,” public safety efforts, or operations by employees/contractors with a “valid easement, right of way or license.”
In English, it says that anyone could declare the airspace over their home, up to 200 feet, as private property. The 200 foot level would be above “improvements”. If a multi-story home is, say, 35 feet high, then the restriction would be 235 feet. If the home has an antenna tower of say, 60 feet, then the restriction would be 260 feet above ground level.
This proposal has nothing to do with a drone carrying a camera; it would apply to all aircraft, used for any purpose, including those incapable of “spying” or merely flying from point A to point B.
The drone industry alliance, previously proposed restricting hobby uses of airspace to below 200 feet in order to privatize the airspace between 200 and 400 feet for industrial applications.
The effect would be to make hobby flights subject to civil fines.
It is not clear that the Uniform Law Commission proposal will be adopted.
The former Chief Counsel of the FAA says a 1946 Court decision gives private landowners “exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere” without defining “immediate reaches“. He believes a “more modest definition of the ‘immediate reaches’ of airspace” should be adopted – not 200 feet.
Meanwhile, the FAA recently issued a statement that the FAA exclusively regulates airspace, not local governments. The FAA did say that local governments, by virtue of zoning authority, may choose to regulate take off and landing locations. The implication is that local governments can ban the take off and landing of all small aircraft within their city limits – but not those flying overhead. Of course, the former would de facto ban all model aircraft.