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Report: State, Local Officials Take Action to Control Low-Altitude Drone Flights

acquisition policyState and local authorities have passed laws to preemptively regulate drone flights as questions arise on the coverage of the Federal Aviation Administration‘s authority on U.S. airspace, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

Jack Nicas writes that the rising use of drones, particularly among private citizens, has caused privacy and safety concerns and raised discussion on policies for low-altitude flights around private property.

The report said a Supreme Court ruling in 1946 indicates that landowners control the airspace immediately above their property, which Northampton in Massachusetts used as a basis for its resolution covering up to 500 feet from the ground.

Nicas reports that 17 states have already established drone policies, while approximately 30 more are planning similar action.

According to FAA, navigable airspace under its regulatory authority extends down to the ground, and state and local officials can use laws against noise and nuisance to prevent drone flights above private property.

Richard Beary, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, believes that FAA guidance presents a complication in regulating drone flight as drones are considered civil aircraft and protected under federal law.

“The regulations don’t exist, and quite frankly the [privacy] laws on the books were designed for someone looking in your window, not someone flying a drone 50 feet above your backyard,” he said, according to the report.

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