Business response is harsh to the passage of California Senate Bill 142, which would restrict the flight of unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), and Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA),  had this to say: “California SB 142 is an unnecessary, innovation-stifling and job-killing proposal.”

The bill aims to address privacy by prohibiting the use of UAS in airspace less than 350 feet above ground level without the express permission of the person or entity with the legal authority to grant access. Wynne and Shapiro say they agree that issues of privacy should be addressed, but that Senate Bill 142 is the wrong approach because it would stifle innovation for the largely California-based drone industry that is in the midst of dynamic expansion.

In addition, they say the bill would open the door to frivolous lawsuits and create inconsistencies with federal law. “The U.S. Supreme Court long ago ruled that property rights do not extend infinitely into the sky. In other words, only the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can regulate airspace; states and municipalities cannot.”

They say the fact that the legislation does not contain commercial, research or educational exemptions is concerning and that a 350-foot flight limit is arbitrary and not based on the realities of UAS operation. “The FAA is now developing regulations to incorporate UAS into the national airspace — rules that should arrive very soon. The California State Legislature should not disrupt this process with artificial statutory restrictions while the FAA process moves toward conclusion. We hope Governor Brown will recognize the overreach of the Legislature and allow this flourishing industry to succeed and thrive in California.”

AUVSI spearheads and CEA is a supporting member of the UAS safety campaign “Know Before You Fly,” which provides prospective UAS operators with the information and guidance they need to fly safely and responsibly.