Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) / Drones

As new federal and state laws and regulations are issued governing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)/drones and drone technology continues to advance, companies in a wide range of industries are increasingly using drones for commercial purposes. They are finding that a multitude of tasks can be completed more quickly, cheaply and thoroughly with drones than was previously possible. Cozen O’Connor’s aviation attorneys operate at the cutting edge of the rapidly changing UAS industry.

We offer drone commercial operators, manufacturers, owners, airports, and municipal governments the full complement of regulatory, transactional and litigation services. Cozen O’Connor has longstanding relationships with major companies in industries now making advantageous use of drone technologies, including public utility, energy, insurance, transportation and real estate companies.

  • Our attorneys closely monitor the fast-evolving UAS regulatory landscape. We assist clients in obtaining Part 107 waivers and airspace authorizations; act as a liaison between drone operators and FAA regulators; and provide thoughtful guidance on FAA regulatory compliance.
  • Cozen O’Connor has extensive experience defending clients from operational liabilities that are likely to be the focus of UAS-related disputes: common law privacy claims, product liability, intentional torts, cybersecurity, risk management, intellectual property and state attorneys general enforcement.  
  • We guide business transactions that require an up-to-the-minute understanding of the drone marketplace and regulations impacting the UAS industry. From negotiating complex contracts and business transactions to pursuing patent protection for new technologies, Cozen O’Connor works with industry leaders to expand drone use and commercial opportunities.

Our aviation practice is ranked by Chambers and The Legal 500, and Cozen O’Connor is listed as one of six “go-to firms” for aviation-related legal counsel by Law360. Our attorneys regularly present and author articles on drone-related legal issues, focusing on both UAS regulatory and liability/litigation issues.


Representative Matters

  • Assisting a manufacturer of innovative drone products to obtain FAA approval to operate its drones on behalf of commercial customers. This was one of the first such approvals granted by the FAA for a drone product of its type.
  • Advising a major global insurance company on its use of drones in underwriting and claims assessment.
  • Advising major U.S. corporations on obtaining FAA approvals to operate drones.
  • Regularly providing counsel to a wide range of clients, including drone manufacturers, airlines, airports and corporations (including several Fortune 500 companies) on drone regulatory, licensing, compliance, liability, litigation and contracting issues.




Could Criminal Penalties for Negligent Drone Operations Extend to Corporations? [Aviation Alert]

May 24, 2018

Bill Walsh discusses why criminalization of negligent drone operation could negatively impact ICAO's and the United States' goal of transparency in aircraft accident investigations.

FAA’s Automated UAS Approval System — A Significant Step Forward [Aviation Alert]

March 19, 2018

Bill Walsh discusses the FAA's LAANC system, next steps in implementing it nationwide, and how this will impact the drone industry and lead to the day of the drones.

States Rev Up Drone Oversight [The Drone Report]

February 06, 2018

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Drone Report surveys proposed drone legislation in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, and West Virginia and discusses recent drone regulatory developments at the federal level.

Drone Advisory Group Raising Regulation Questions [Aviation Alert]

November 08, 2017

Bill Walsh discusses a recent article in the Washington Post and its implications for the Drone industry.

Government Agency Action Accelerates On Drone Operations [The Drone Report]

September 12, 2017

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Drone Report discusses FAA’s statement on the success of Part 107 (its regulations governing commercial uses of small drones), the status of drone-related rulemakings, DOD’s guidance on drone operations over military installations, the new partnership between DHS and Mississippi to test and evaluate drones, pending federal drone legislation, Federal citations for drone use in Yellowstone National Park, and proposed legislation in California related to the use of drones for law enforcement surveillance.

Drone Risks Create New Legal Challenges

September 01, 2017

William Walsh, a member of the firm's Aviation Litigation Practice, authored, "Drone Risks Create New Legal Challenges," for Risk Management Magazine.

Waves of Regulation Hit the Drone Industry [The Drone Report]

July 25, 2017

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Drone Report discusses the unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)/drone-related provisions of the recently introduced FAA reauthorization bills, a recent FAA chief counsel’s legal interpretation regarding drone operations near private heliports, the Department of the Interior’s data-sharing initiative to prevent unauthorized drone operations over wildfires, the Drone I.D. Rulemaking Committee’s recent meetings, a recent judicial proceeding on the GoPro drone case, President Trump’s offer to sell drones to India as part of the joint “Prosperity Through Partnership” initiative measure between the United States and India, and the latest state regulations and legislation regarding drones.

US Regulation of Commercial Uses of Drones

July 06, 2017

David Heffernan and Jennifer Urban, of Cozen O'Connor's Transportation and Trade Group, published "US Regulation of Commercial Uses of Drones" for Expert Guides.

FAA and Congress Move Forward with Drone Oversight [The Drone Report]

June 23, 2017

Jennifer Urban and Rachael Wallace discuss the D.C. Circuit Court’s recent decision against the FAA’s registration requirements for recreational drones, the latest findings and recommendations of the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee, FAA Administrator Huerta’s recent statement on drone safety, and the introduction of the Drone Federalism Act of 2017 in the U.S. Senate.

Drones: The Sky is no Longer the Limit for Water/Sewer Systems [PAAWWA]

April 24, 2017

David Heffernan, Michael Klein and Jennifer Urban discuss how drones will revolutionize the way water and sewer systems operate and the legal restrictions that accompany this new practice.

February 2017 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

February 13, 2017

This edition discusses DOT’s final approval of antitrust immunity for Delta Air Lines and Aeromexico, DOT’s proceeding to reallocate some of Delta/Aeromexico’s Mexico City and JFK slots to other airlines, DOT’s proposed rule to require airlines and ticket agents to disclose baggage fees, the FAA’s final rule amending small aircraft airworthiness standards, new DOT training materials for airlines and their employees and contractors regarding compliance with Part 382 disabled passenger regulations, DHS’s increase of certain aviation-related civil penalties for violations of immigration and TSA rules, GAO criticism of U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s predeparture programs, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

How President Trump’s Anti-Regulation Policy Could Undermine Aviation Industry Interests [Aviation Alert]

February 06, 2017

David Heffernan and Jennifer Urban discuss how President Trump's recent executive order “Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs,” and anti-regulation policy generally, could impact the aviation industry.

Perspectives: Commercial Use of Drones Could be Grounded by Costs [Business Insurance]

January 02, 2017

William Walsh, co-chair of the Aviation Industry Team, discusses the significant tension between the Federal Aviation Administration regulation for commercial drones and any conceivable economic model of a profitable retail drone delivery operation.

December 2016 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

December 14, 2016

This edition discusses DOT’s proposed rule on the use of cell phones to make voice calls on commercial flights, the results of DOT’s negotiated rulemaking on accessible in-flight entertainment and accessible lavatories on single-aisle aircraft to accommodate disabled passengers, DOT’s approval of Norwegian Air International’s foreign air carrier permit, the FAA’s increase of overflight fees, PHMSA amendments to the Hazardous Materials Regulations, the DOT Inspector General’s audit report on FAA oversight of unmanned aircraft/drones and initiation of an audit of the FAA’s oversight of runway safety, DOT’s updated enforcement policy regarding extended tarmac delays, DOT’s denial of American Airlines and Qantas Airways’ request for antitrust immunity, the Justice Department’s clearance of the Alaska Airlines-Virgin America merger, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

September 2016 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

September 23, 2016

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update discusses DOT’s selection of carriers to operate U.S.-Havana and U.S.-Tokyo (Haneda) air services, the FAA’s implementation of its small unmanned aircraft systems/drone rules, new increases in DOT civil penalty amounts, the FAA’s draft PFC order, GAO’s reporting on FAA oversight of repair stations, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

August 2016 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

August 08, 2016

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update discusses new FAA reauthorization legislation, DOT awards for U.S. carrier scheduled service to Cuba, DOT’s decision to address consumer notification requirements regarding changes in airline frequent flyer program rules, and more.

May 2016 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

May 26, 2016

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update includes DOT’s announcement of the members and meeting schedule of the Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (Disabled Passenger Negotiated Rulemaking Committee), the FAA’s withdrawal of its rulemaking on slot management at New York area slot-controlled airports, the FAA’s elimination of slot controls at Newark Liberty International Airport and extension of the Orders governing slots at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and LaGuardia Airport, proposed FAA amendments to PFC funding eligibility for on-airport rail projects, the FAA’s creation of a Drone Advisory Committee to advise the FAA on further regulatory steps regarding the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems/drones into the U.S. national airspace system, PHMSA’s ban on the carriage of battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices in checked baggage, the continuing House and Senate standoff over the next FAA Reauthorization bill, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

January 2016 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

February 01, 2016

This edition includes the recently signed U.S.-Mexico bilateral agreement that liberalizes air services between the two countries, new Cuba-related regulations loosening restrictions on U.S.-Cuba air services and the export and reexport of U.S.-origin aircraft to Cuba, changes to the Visa Waiver Program, proposed dates for upcoming DOT aviation-related rulemakings, the DOT Office of the Inspector General’s reports criticizing FAA operations, oversight, cost controls and air traffic control staffing, DOT animal incident reporting guidance, new FAA Stage 5 aircraft noise standards, DHS implementation of REAL ID requirements for air travelers, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

December 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

December 21, 2015

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update includes looming revisions to the Visa Waiver Program, DOT’s plans for an additional round of new regulations on disabled passenger-related issues, the FAA’s new registration requirements for small unmanned aircraft systems/drones, DOT guidance on airline liability for damage to components of checked baggage, Congressional bills on Export-Import Bank reauthorization, pilots’ rights, and Visa Waiver Program Changes, the status of FAA reauthorization legislation, the FAA’s updated airspace obstruction standards, and recent FAA enforcement actions.

November 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

November 13, 2015

This edition discusses the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit against United Airlines and Delta Air Lines seeking to block the carriers’ proposed slot swap at Newark, DOT’s ban on electronic smoking devices in checked baggage, DOT and the FAA’s planned registration requirements for drones/unmanned aircraft, the FAA’s new safety compliance philosophy, new FAA rules on production certificates and approvals, APHIS final rules on agricultural quarantine and inspection services, a Congressional hearing on TSA security oversight, and the latest DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

September 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

October 02, 2015

This edition reports on Congress’s six-month extension of FAA’s reauthorization; new U.S. Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements with the European Union and Canada; the FAA’s final rule on the disclosure of aircraft seat dimensions to facilitate the use of child safety seats on airplanes; DOT’s latest small community air service development grants; the Treasury and Commerce Departments’ new amendments to the Cuba Sanctions Regulations.

August 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions

August 24, 2015

DOT’s launch of an investigation of alleged price gouging by airlines following Amtrak train service disruption in the Northeast Corridor, the agency’s continuing review of the Delta/Aeromexico antitrust immunity application, DOT’s and the Departments of State and Commerce’s ongoing review of subsidy allegations brought by the three largest U.S. carriers against Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways.

July 2015 Update on Significant DOT, FAA and Other Federal Agencies’ Aviation-Related Regulatory Actions [Aviation Regulatory Update]

July 02, 2015

An update on the multi-agency review of U.S. carrier allegations of subsidy against three gulf carriers, recent applications for antitrust immunity for airline alliances, EPA’s initial action to address greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft, DHS amendments to the ESTA program and planned expansion of customs and immigration preclearance facilities at additional foreign airports, Congressional hearings on FAA reauthorization, aviation security and drone operations, and recent DOT and FAA enforcement actions.

DOT Passenger Protection Rulemaking #3, NextGen, Ebola, Drones, Enforcement Actions, Security Fees [Aviation Regulatory Update]

October 27, 2014

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update covers comments filed on DOT’s Passenger Protection Rulemaking #3, the FAA’s continuing plans for NextGen implementation, federal agency statements on the Ebola virus and its potential impact on air travel, the expansion of commercial drone operations, new enforcement actions by DOT and the FAA, and changes to regulations and policies affecting the aviation industry.

DOT Action on NAI’s Application to Serve the U.S., the Continuing Focus on Ancillary Service Fees [Aviation Regulatory Update]

September 18, 2014

This edition of the Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update covers DOT action on Norwegian Air International’s application to serve the U.S., Congress’ and DOT’s continuing focus on airline ancillary service fees and consumer protection, new enforcement actions by DOT and FAA, and proposed changes to federal agency regulations and policies affecting the aviation industry.

An Update on Aviation Regulatory Matters Involving DOT, FAA, TSA, Customs and Other Federal Agencies [Aviation Regulatory Update]

August 22, 2014

The August edition of the Aviation Regulatory Update including updates on extension of comments periods, new enforcement actions, the FAA's legal interpretation prohibiting universities from using their Certificate of Waiver or Authorization to train students to fly drones, new regulations for transportation of lithium cells and batteries, and more.

Congress Considers Transportation Appropriations Provisions, Other Legislation Impacting Aviation [Aviation Regulatory Update]

July 21, 2014

On Capitol Hill, legislators are working to pass a Transportation Appropriations bill that will fund aviation programs during the 2015 fiscal year. As part of the appropriations process, members of the House and Senate are looking at a number of amendments that impact aviation. This includes continuing debate on limiting the Department of Transportation’s ability to approve the controversial application filed by Norwegian Airlines International (reported in last month’s Cozen O’Connor Aviation Regulatory Update) to operate to the United States and whether to allow Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport to impose a nighttime curfew on airline operations.

DOT Releases Passenger Protection Rulemaking #3; FAA Considers Commercial Drone Operations; Other Regulatory Issues [Aviation Regulatory Update]

June 16, 2014

It has been a busy month at the Department of Transportation, with the DOT finally releasing its long-anticipated proposed rule on Transparency of Airline Ancillary Fees and Other Consumer Protection Issues, better known as Passenger Protection Rulemaking #3 or PP3. DOT also issued a Show Cause Order tentatively approving IATA’s Resolution 787 to establish a “new distribution capability” for air travel distribution. On Capitol Hill, the House passed the 2015 Transportation Appropriations bill, including an amendment that could have the effect of preventing DOT from approving the controversial application filed by Norwegian Airlines International for authority to begin operating to the United States.

In The News

Freeman and Heffernan named to JD Supra 2018 Readers Choice Awards Top Airlines/Aviation Authors

April 13, 2018

David Heffernan, a member of Cozen O’Connor Transportation and Trade Practice Group, and Rob Freeman, a government relations principal in Cozen O’Connor’s Public Strategies Group, were named to JD Supra 2018 Readers Choice Awards Top Airlines/Aviation Authors.

Microsoft Makes VR Drone Fight Simulator Available on GitHub

February 21, 2017

William Walsh discusses drones and the need for training and safety testing in LinuxInsider.

Leni Cummins Discusses Use of Drones by Condominiums and Cooperatives in The Cooperator

January 19, 2016

Leni Cummins, member of Cozen O'Connor's Real Estate practice group, discusses drone usage by condominiums and cooperatives in The Cooperator.

William Walsh Discusses the Risks of Drones During the Holiday Buying Season in Business Insurance

December 06, 2015

Drone sales that could top 1 million this holiday season have lawyers warming up for a wave of claims, with differing views on the insurance industry's readiness for the risks that commercial and consumer drone operators will bring.


David Heffernan

Vice Chair, Transportation & Trade


(202) 463-2537

William H. Walsh



(206) 224-1296


Related Practice Areas

Keep up-to-date with the latest news from Cozen O'Connor

Enter your City or Zip.

Probably shouldn't change this:
Sign up to receive alerts, publications, and event / webinar invites.

By submitting your contact information, you are giving Cozen O'Connor consent to contact you via email.