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LeClairRyan Webinar Explores FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018


--In free, 90-minute recording, veteran aviation attorneys from the national law firm dive into the 1,200-page act and its implications for airlines, manufacturers, the drone industry and others in aviation.

A freely available, 90-minute webinar recording by LeClairRyan aviation attorneys provides an informative overview of the 1,200-page FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

After six extensions over the past year and a half, the U.S. Senate finally passed the law on Oct. 3 in a 96-to-6 vote. For the aviation industry, the task is now to understand and respond to the cascading implications of the five-year reauthorization with respect to operations, compliance, consumer and employee relations, and more, said Mark A. Dombroff, an Alexandria-based shareholder in LeClairRyan and co-leader of the national law firm’s Aviation Industry practice.

“To say this act covers a broad array of topics is an understatement,” Dombroff said. “These regulations touch on consumer issues like bumping passengers from airplanes or banning in-flight cellphone calls. There are important provisions on Unmanned Aerial Systems, noise regulations, mandated rest periods for flight attendants, certification of supersonic aircraft and much more.”

Conducted just one day after passage of the reauthorization, the webinar by Dombroff and his colleague Mark E. McKinnon, also a veteran aviation attorney and partner in LeClairRyan’s Alexandria office, is available here as a free recording. Their 31-page presentation is available here for download as well.

During the webinar (“The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018: Everything You Wanted To Know”), Dombroff and McKinnon drilled into key provisions for hundreds of webinar attendees hailing from airlines, manufacturers and other aviation companies and sectors.

They described in detail language related to the UAS sector, in particular. “The act includes wide-ranging mandates for regulators on UAS and makes important changes related to test sites, waivers and airworthiness, pilot, air carrier and airport certificates,” McKinnon noted. “Provisions on UAS design standards and package delivery, as well as the operation of model aircraft, are part of the act as well.”

While the legislation includes new restrictions—such as a $25,000 civil penalty for turning drones into weapons and serious criminal penalties for using them to interfere with manned aircraft or to commit other crimes—it also orders regulators to continue the important work of integrating drones into existing U.S. airspace, Dombroff noted. “It funds UAS regulations and services and orders a Government Accountability Office study on the impact of potentially allowing local control of the low-level airspace occupied by drones,” the attorney said. “All told, Congress is continuing to move the ball forward on UAS integration, which is good to see.”

Dombroff and McKinnon also describe changes related to noise standards, civil supersonic aircraft, FAA safety certification reform, foreign regulations, the Aviation Safety Action Program, standards for lithium ion batteries, flight attendant duty limitations/rest requirements, the Fairness for Pilots Act, airline customer service improvements, NTSB reauthorization and more.

“It’s encouraging to see Congress act in a bipartisan fashion and finally pass this important five-year reauthorization,” Dombroff said. “To assist our clients and the industry in digesting this material, our aviation team will continue blogging about the act and exploring its implications via our popular and ongoing Aviation Symposium Webinar Series. Stay tuned.”

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