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Friday, January 22, 2016

Drones—What’s Up

The technology and regulation related to drones, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), continues to be a moving target. League of Minnesota Cities (LMC) research attorney Quinn O’Reilly continues to follow the changes and recently published this article:

Quinn’s Update—Public vs. Private Use of Drones
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced a new online registration system for recreational Unmanned Aircraft Systems, often called “drones.” Information on the program can be found here: Though city residents using drones for hobby uses will likely need to register using this website, drones used by cities for public purposes may not be registered using the new site.

Any city interested in utilizing a drone for any public use must follow the procedures the FAA has established, which can be reviewed here: While there is a registration process for government-owned drones, the registration can only be done in paper form and not using the new online system.
Quinn O'Reilly

Drones are a new and exciting area of the law, but regulations are quickly changing. The FAA has been tasked with working to incorporate drones safely into U.S. airspace. The new registration requirement for hobbyist users is one of the methods the FAA is utilizing to ensure safety in the skies, as well as the safety of individuals on the ground. The registration will assist the FAA in its task to ensure those piloting drones are following the rule of law and are flying safely.

If you have any questions regarding drones or the FAA’s regulations, please contact Quinn O’Reilly at, or the FAA office in Minneapolis at (612) 253-4400.

Drone Guidance for Law Enforcement
On January 8, the FAA released UAS Guidance for Law Enforcement. The document reads: “State and local police are often in the best position to immediately investigate unauthorized UAS operations and, as appropriate, to stop them. The document explains how first responders and others can provide invaluable assistance to the FAA by:
  • Identifying potential witnesses and conducting initial interviews
  • Contacting the suspected operators of the UAS or model aircraft
  • Viewing and recording the location of the event
  • Collecting evidence
  • Identifying if the UAS operation was in a sensitive location, event, or activity
  • Notifying one of the FAA’s Regional Operation Centers about the operation as soon as possible”
The contact information for the FAA Regional Center for Minnesota is (817) 222-5006 and

More information, the full guidance document, information about sporting events, and frequently asked questions can be found here:

Up next: Mental Health First Aid

In the meantime, stay safe and be careful.


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