State lawmakers in New Jersey advanced a package of bills on December 14 to restrict the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, in reaction to incidents receiving national attention, including around Newark International Airport. This first round of legislation focuses on restricting drone flights over critical infrastructure, notifying customers of Federal Aviation Administration regulations, and implementing "geo-fencing" technology that prevents UAS from flying over certain areas and criminalizes violations.
Also on December 14, the FAA unveiled new drone registration rules, requiring registration of any unmanned aircraft weighing more than .55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds, with costly penalties for failing to comply.
Policy issues are challenging the use of drones because business opportunities for the technology are expanding rapidly, while safety concerns continue to climb. Despite current efforts, drone integration and legislation is problematic due to antiquated regulatory requirements. For example, all drone operations are currently restricted to 400 feet above ground and 5 miles away from an airport; however, numerous stories in the news have illustrated repeated violations of the policy due to an inherent lack of training for the common user.
Over the next decade, growth in the drone industry is expected to grow significantly on the commercial side, with an estimated 19% annual growth rate each year to 2020. As of this writing, Christmas sales alone were estimated to be over 1 million. Despite the recent media attention, e-commerce and package delivery will not be the early focus of the industry due to municipal level challenges with securing dedicated air corridors.
Pending UAS Legislation in NJ
- Introduced in May, 2015, Bill A4344 establishes a fourth degree crime to conduct surveillance of critical infrastructure using drones and requires certain drones to be registered and insured.
- Introduced in October, 2015, Bill S3174 requires a business to provide every purchase of a drone with a written notice containing the FAA safety guidelines for model aircraft.
- Introduced in December, 2015, Bill A4807 permits municipalities to enact ordinance prohibiting a person from operating a drone in the flight path of an airport and within 12 miles of an airport.
Critical Infrastucture Protection Resources
NJOHSP’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Bureau (CIP) is currently offering free risk assessments for New Jersey facilities using US DHS’s Rapid Survey Tool (RST). The RST is designed to inform owners and operators of their physical and cyber vulnerabilities. The RST is based on a set of 88 questions and deployments typically last 60 minutes. The answers are analyzed and the facility receives results in comparison to other anonymized surveys across the Nation. Any information derived from the questioning is highly confidential and controlled under the Critical Infrastructure Information Act of 2002.
The data is also protected from the US Freedom of Information Act and the NJ Open Public Records Acts.
For more information on this free service, please contact the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bureau at CIP@njohsp.gov.
For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Preparedness Bureau at Preparedness@njohsp.gov.