Defeating drones that threaten airports will be allowed only once the paperwork is done. The FAA’s Office of Airports Safety and Standards issued new guidance this week with regard to the deployment of counter-unmanned aircraft systems (C-UAS) at airports.
The FAA said it could not “confirm the legality of any UAS detection system” and urged installing airports to seek “site-specific guidance” from private legal counsel and law enforcement. The agency went on to advise airports of their legal obligations under federal transportation law and airport certification standards with regard to the installation of C-UAS. Specifically, the FAA reminded airports of their notification requirements regarding the construction and alteration of existing structures, the need to comply with airport operating certificates including the need to update airport certification manuals, and the obligation to comply with applicable grant assurance obligations and the mandate to maintain an up-to-date airport layout plan.
While the FAA said it is “working to develop a federal response to a persistent UAS disruption at a major airport” at a future, unspecified date, in the short term it counseled airport operators to embrace “coordination” with the FAA before installing any C-UAS and warned that “the operational use of UAS detection systems may provoke response actions that disrupt air traffic operations at your airport or otherwise introduce undesirable safety and efficiency impacts.”