Mitsubishi Regional Jet Runs into Regulatory Turbulence in the American Skies

ja21mj_2016-09-27_img_4836By Mariko Kageyama

Say you are a maker of a brand new aircraft. You show off its blueprint and miniature model and take orders before you have even constructed it. What legal risks are you willing to assume at this stage? Though this may seem a quintessential contract question, a real case involving Mitsubishi provides us an interesting twist.

On September 28 and November 18, 2016, the first two Mitsubishi Regional Jet MRJ90 test aircraft made successful ferry flights from Nagoya, Japan to Moses Lake, Washington. Built by Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, the MRJ90 is the first all-new commercial airplane manufactured in Japan in the last half a century. A fleet of MRJ90 test aircraft will be undergoing test flights in partnership with a local engineering firm, AeroTEC, which is based at the Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake. A team of over 200 aerospace engineers in Moses Lake, Seattle, and Nagoya is aiming to make the MRJ90’s formal certification process as smooth as possible to allow entry its into service in 2018.

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Uber for the Skies Gets Shot Down by Federal Regulators

FlyNowBy: Samuel Daheim

In December 2015, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rightfully concluded that private pilots, using a web-based service to offer flights to potential passengers, presented themselves as common carriers willing to transport persons for compensation.  Thus, the pilots had violated the terms of their noncommercial pilot licenses.  The pilots petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States for certiorari, and a response came on August 1, 2016.

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Drone Drain [Update]

Aeryon_Scout_In_FlightBy Brooks Lindsay

This blog post follows up on an article I wrote for the Washington Journal of Law, Technology and Arts for the Spring 2015 issue. I submitted the article as a comment to the FAA on behalf of the UW College of Engineering. The article, titled “Drone Drain,” suggested the FAA be forward-looking with its draft unmanned aerial vehicle (UAS) rules. This blog post attempts to assess the FAA’s work since then.

Since the end of the comment period, the FAA created registration rules for drones weighing between .55 lbs and 55 lbs. This is an important step in the maturation of drone law because, like with cars, the identification of a drone after an accident is critical for victims to bring tort claims or the government to press charges for a misdemeanor or felony. If people don’t know who crashed a drone, then they can’t hold that registered person legally accountable. Without accountability, UAS pilots might feel emboldened to take risks without fear of legal consequences. Registration rules cut through this cycle and facilitate the maturation of a legal ecosystem for drones. Continue reading

Are Flying Cars Really in Our Future?

flying carBy Danielle Olero

The vintage cartoon, The Jetsons, inspired many to predict there would be flying cars by the year 2000. But amongst our many modern conveniences, flying to work in a car has not been an option. People may not have invented flying cars by the turn of the century, but we may be closer than we ever imagined. Many people use drones to carry packages, take videos, diffuse bombs, and now they can carry you. Continue reading

Are Hoverboards Hovering Above the Law?

hoverboardBy Denise Kim

Hoverboard, glider, electric skateboard, or skywalker—the technology goes by many different names. But many in the public and the news use the term hoverboard. For those who are unfamiliar with the technology, a hoverboard is a self-balancing scooter or a two-wheeled motorized gadget that normally costs between $300-500. To operate a hoverboard, the owner leans forward to move ahead. The owner leans back on the two pressure sensitive footpads to brake or reverse. Hoverboards have become a new staple in the 21st Century. Hoverboards have also raised safety concerns.

One safety concern is that hoverboards can randomly catch on fire. Major airlines including American, Delta, United and Southwest banned hoverboards from being checked in or carried on the plane. Toward the end of 2015, these safety concerns caused major panic across the U.S. and the rest of the world as many bought hoverboards for loved ones for Christmas. The airline companies cited concerns over the lithium ion batteries (which the Federal Aviation Administration regulates as hazardous materials) as the reason behind this universal ban. Continue reading