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Lessons in Liability: Drones 101

01/09/2018

U.S. businesses can now hire any number of drone-operating vendors to help them do inspections, filming, testing, spraying and more. This creates tremendous efficiencies and can save lives. However, with respect to compliance and risk-management, hiring third-party drone services creates questions that merit careful consideration. In this column, veteran aviation attorney Mark A. Dombroff discusses some of the risks and offers tips to help shield your company from liability.

A gas company needs to inspect a far-flung pipeline. A brokerage firm seeks aerial views of a shopping mall. A pizza chain envisions delivering a pie to home plate as part of a baseball-themed ad campaign. In each of these hypothetical cases, management could turn to technology that is increasingly becoming part of American life—Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or “drones” for short.

While the U.S. military has been flying drones for 30 years, the whirring, remote-controlled aircraft are now on the shelf at just about every discount store or electronics retailer in the country. They are also getting cheaper and better by the day. According to one estimate, Americans will have purchased an estimated 1.6 million drones in the 2017 holiday season alone. Higher-end UAS, which are suitable for a wide range of commercial purposes, are also easily available on websites like DroneFly or Drones Etc.

It all means that U.S. businesses can now hire any number of drone-operating vendors to help them do inspections, filming, testing, spraying and more. This creates tremendous efficiencies, and it will save lives. (What would you rather do, climb a 200-foot tower or use a drone to conduct that inspection?)

With respect to compliance and risk management, however, hiring third-party drone services creates questions that merit careful consideration.

Read the full article in Corporate Compliance Insights here.

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