Russell Klingaman Provides Insights on FAA's New Landmark Commercial Drones Rules

June 21, 2016

Russell A. Klingaman, a partner in the Milwaukee office of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, was quoted in two articles discussing rules announced by the Federal Aviation Administration on June 21 that loosen the requirements for commercial drone use. The articles — "FAA Completes Landmark Rules for Commercial Drones" (USA Today) and "FAA OKs Small Drones But Leaves Big Questions Hovering" Law360 — were both published on June 21, 2016. 

As explained in the USA Today article, the new rules allow "commercial drones [unmanned aerial systems (UAS)] weighing up to 55 pounds to fly during daylight hours and lower than 400 feet in the air, or higher if within 400 feet of a taller building or tower. The aircraft must remain within sight of the operator or an observer who is in communication with the operator. The operators must be at least 16 years old and pass an aeronautics test every 24 months for a certificate and a background check by the Transportation Security Administration."

In the USA Today article, Mr. Klingaman "compared the drone rules to the initial flights of the Wright brothers a century ago — both for the historic opportunities and the dangers." He also expressed his concern that "[a]s the skies become more crowded [there will be challenges in avoiding] collisions above a traffic accident or a fire if police and news drones with sophisticated equipment are joined by hobbyist drones that don’t communicate. Technology and operator education will both improve. . . . There will be huge safety concerns and there will be mishaps[.] The future is really wide open."

In the Law360 article, Mr. Klingaman remarked, "It's a watershed moment, but it's just a start. . . . There is a whole lot of potential UAS operations that are still restricted, and I don't think anybody was expecting a new set of rules being issued [for those]. There's a lot of pent-up demand and a lot of anticipation down the road for wider use and more liberal rules."

Read the full article "FAA Completes Landmark Rules for Commercial Drones" on the USA Today website. Read the full article "FAA OKs Small Drones But Leaves Big Questions Hovering" on the Law360 website. Please note that a subscription is required to access the law360 article.

Mr. Klingaman — a leader of Hinshaw's Aviation Law Practice — helps members of the business and aviation communities manage and deal with their legal matters. His strengths include resolving disputes, reducing risks and leveraging opportunities. As a licensed pilot and aircraft owner, he has unique insights in aviation-related legal matters including products liability, pilot errors, mechanical problems, Federal Aviation Administration enforcement actions, transactions and many others. Mr. Klingaman also has substantial experience dealing with issues involving business law and intellectual property including trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks and patents.

Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP is a U.S.-based law firm with offices nationwide. The firm's national reputation spans the insurance industry, the financial services sector, professional services, and other highly regulated industries. Hinshaw provides holistic legal solutions—from litigation and dispute resolution, and business advisory and transactional services, to regulatory compliance—for clients of all sizes. Visit for more information and follow @Hinshaw on LinkedIn and X.