Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS
Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS

UAS in general

It is highly advisable to take the AOPA Online Course on Unmanned Aircraft Systems - it is good for WINGS credit too!

International Drone Day - a day to show all that unmanned systems are good


AOPA Article on Drones: Droning on - March 2015


Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Massive Open Online Course - UAS Key concepts for new users

In January, Embry-Riddle Worldwide will offer its fifth MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to anyone with an Internet connection and a desire to learn about aviation. And it is free! 

This MOOC, Unmanned Aerospace Systems (UAS) – Key Concepts for New Users, is expected to be followed by more free online courses from Embry-Riddle professors specializing in other aviation and aerospace fields. So if learning about unmanned aerospace systems does not interest you, there is bound to be a MOOC that piques your aerospace interest in coming months.


Nov 27, 2015 - FAA released their safety guide in time for Black Friday shopping -  

Fly safe with your drone

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March 28, 2016 - FAA projects 7 million UAVs sold in US by 2020

Read more in their Aerospace Forecast below

and below that the Concept of Operations regarding flight crew training etc.

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Feb 6 - Feb 19, 2017


Drones reporting for work


September 2016: Protecting the Sky - Rohde-Schwarz Whitepaper


September 2016: Advisory Group on Drones to Focus on Airspace Access, Preemption and Privacy


Embry-Riddle Worldwide Campus - sUAS User Guide


The two articles below written by an attorney with no aviation background...

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The Export Administration Regulations - EAR

The U.S. Department of Commerce administers the Export Administration Regulations (15 CFR §§730-774), or “EAR,” which regulate the export of “dual-use” items. These items include goods and related technology, including technical data and technical assistance, which are designed for commercial purposes, but which could have military applications, such as computers, aircraft, and pathogens.

The list of EAR-controlled items (the Commerce Control list, or “CCL”) is published at 15 CFR §774, Supplement 1. An alphabetical list of CCL items is accessible at: EAR Technical Data may take forms such as blueprints, plans, diagrams, models, formulae, tables, engineering designs and specifications, manuals, and instructions written or recorded on other media or devices such as disk, tape, and read-only memories. EAR Technical Assistance may take forms such as instruction, skills training, working knowledge, and consulting services.

The CCL categorizes these covered items into 10 broad categories:

  1. Nuclear Materials, Facilities and Equipment, and Miscellaneous
  2. Materials, Chemicals, Microorganisms, and Toxins
  3. Materials Processing
  4. Electronics
  5. Computers
  6. Telecommunications and Information Security
  7. Lasers and Sensors
  8. Navigation and Avionics
  9. Marine
  10. Propulsion Systems, Space Vehicles, and Related Equipment

For goods and technology listed on the CCL, a license may be required for export, depending on the destination country, receiving party, and end use, unless an exclusion or exemption applies. Where embargoed countries are involved (see “OFAC Sanctions Program”), a license will be denied.

The regulations include an additional “catch-all” category, the EAR99, which covers any good or technology that is subject to the EAR as defined in 15 CFR §734.3(a), but that is not on the CCL. Items in the EAR99 category do not require a license for “list-based” controls, but may require a license based on embargoes, sanctions, receiving party or end use.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR)

The Department of State is responsible for the export and temporary import of defense articles and services governed by 22 U.S.C. 2778 of the Arms Export Control Act ("AECA"; see the AECA Web page) and Executive Order 13637. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations ("ITAR," 22 CFR 120-130) implements the AECA. The ITAR is available from the Government Printing Office (GPO) as an annual hardcopy or e-document publication as part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and as an updated e-document.


Read the following first...

Drones and Export Controls - v1.pdf
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May 2016 - Game of drones - AOPA Article


April 22, 2016 - Aviation Week Article - The Strange History Of The Word ‘Drone’


UAS Maintenance: The same, but different

Great article written to address these issues.... since there is no compliance program with the FAA as yet, despite UAS being classified as aircraft.

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The Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation (LSUASC) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi was established by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents on Oct. 31, 2013, as a research center in partnership with the Texas A&M University Engineering Experiment Station (TEES).

20 of the world's leading research universities and a hundred leading industry, government partners comprise the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence, or ASSURE which possesses the expertise, infrastructure and outstanding track record of success that the FAA Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems demands.


The UAV Digest is a weekly audio podcast bringing you coverage of unmanned aerial vehicles and systems,

created by David Vanderhoof and Max Flight - the two hosts of the show.


UAV111 UAVs and the Law - Guest speaker Dr. Sarah Nilsson September 4, 2015


Marcelo Lewin




The Drone Dude Podcast


Interview with Dr. Sarah J. Nilsson, Esq. on July 10, 2015


The history of the drone in 9 minutes


In case you are interested in the early history of UAS and the AMA, below are three books available for download 

A brief history of early UA.pdf
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UAS - A Historical Perspective.pdf
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History of AMA.pdf
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Unmanned Aircraft (UA): A device used or intended to be used for flight in the air that has no onboard pilot. This device excludes missiles, weapons, or exploding warheads, but includes all classes of airplanes, helicopters, airships, and powered-lift aircraft without an onboard pilot. UA do not include traditional balloons (see 14 CFR Part 101), rockets, tethered aircraft and un-powered gliders.


Crewmember [UAS]: In addition to the crewmembers identified in 14 CFR Part 1, a UAS flightcrew member includes pilots, sensor/payload operators, and visual observers (VO), but may include other persons as appropriate or required to ensure safe operation of the aircraft.


Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS): An unmanned aircraft and its associated elements related to safe operations, which may include control stations (ground, ship, or air-based), control links, support equipment, payloads, flight termination systems, and launch/recovery equipment. It consists of three elements:

Unmanned Aircraft;

Control Station;
And Data Link.


National Airspace System (NAS): The common network of U.S. airspace—air navigation facilities, equipment, and services; airports or landing areas; aeronautical charts, information and services; rules, regulations, and procedures; technical information; and manpower and material.


Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen): According to the FAA’s Destination 2025, (2011): “NextGen is a series of inter-linked programs, systems, and policies that implement advanced technologies and

capabilities to dramatically change the way the current aviation system is operated. NextGen is satellite-based and relies on a network to share information and digital communications so all users of the system are aware of other users’ precise locations.”

Airworthiness Certification: process that the FAA uses to ensure that an aircraft design complies with the appropriate safety standards in the applicable airworthiness regulations


Certificate of Waiver or Authorization: an FAA grant of approval for a specific flight operation. The authorization to operate a UAS in the NAS as a public aircraft outside of Restricted, Warning, or Prohibited areas approved for aviation activities


Collision Avoidance: the Sense and Avoid system function where the UAS takes appropriate action to prevent an intruder from penetrating the collision volume. Action is expected to be initiated within a relatively short time horizon before closest point of approach. The collision avoidance function engages when all other modes of separation fail.


Communication link: the voice or data relay of instructions or information between the UAS pilot and the air traffic controller and other NAS users


Control Station: the equipment used to maintain control, communicate with, guide, or otherwise pilot an unmanned aircraft


Crewmember (UAS): in addition to the crewmembers identified in 14 CFR Part 1, a UAS flightcrew member includes pilots, sensor/payload operators, and visual observers, but may include other persons as appropriate or required to ensure safe operation of the aircraft


Data link: ground-to-air communications system which transmits information via digital coded pulses


Detect and Avoid: term used instead of Sense and Avoid by RTCA


Optionally Piloted Aircraft: aircraft that is integrated with UAS technology and still retains the capability of being flown by an onboard pilot using conventional methods


Pathfinder: an initial UAS airworthiness certification program that will aid the FAA in the establishment of certification requirements


See and Avoid: when weather conditions permit, pilots operating instrument flight rules or visual flight rules are required to observe and maneuver to avoid another aircraft


Self-Separation: Sense and Avoid system function where the UAS maneuvers within a sufficient timeframe to remain well clear of other airborne traffic


Sense and Avoid: the capability of a UAS to remain well clear from and avoid collisions with other airborne traffic. Sense and Avoid provides the functions of self-separation and collision avoidance to establish an analogous capability to "see and avoid" required by manned aircraft 


Small Unmanned Aircraft: UAS weighing less than 55 pounds


Visual line-of-Sight: unaided (corrective lenses and/or sunglasses exempted) visual contact between a pilot-in-command or a visual observer and a UAS sufficient to maintain safe operational control of the aircraft, know its location, and be able to scan the airspace in which it is operating to see and avoid other traffic or objects aloft or on the ground

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Sarah Nilsson, JD, PhD, MAS


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Legal disclaimer 

The information on this website is for educational purposes only and DOES NOT constitute legal advice. While the author of this website is an attorney, she is not your attorney, nor are you her client, until you enter into a written agreement with Nilsson Law, PLLC to provide legal services.



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