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Joshua Turner Discusses State Legislators’ Efforts to Restrict Drone Use

Bloomberg BNA’s Daily Report for Executives 
February 5, 2016

Joshua S. Turner, a member of Wiley Rein’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Practice and co-chair of the firm’s Communications Enforcement & Compliance Practice, was quoted in a Bloomberg BNA article about efforts by legislators in dozens of states to restrict the use of UAS (also known as drones)—particularly near prisons and critical infrastructure facilities.

Mr. Turner said he understood many of the policy concerns motivating state lawmakers and prison administrators, but he said their legislative prescriptions are probably preempted by federal aviation statutes and likely would not survive legal challenges.

“As a general matter, any state law that tries to restrict the operation of aircraft, including unmanned aircraft, is probably preempted,” Mr Turner told BNA’s Daily Report for Executives. “So if you’re talking about restrictions on where you can fly unmanned aircraft, if you are talking about who can operate these aircraft, if you are talking about certifications for operating these aircraft—all of those things strike me as right in the heartland of federal authority.”

Mr. Turner also noted that state and local lawmakers should look closely at the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS fact sheet before enacting any drone restrictions.

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