State legislatures should let the FAA address management challenges in the National Airspace System despite local concerns about the proliferation of drones being flown near public facilities, AOPA said in a letter to Michigan lawmakers.
As the Michigan legislature returns to work from a summer recess, two Senate bills dealing with unmanned aircraft systems flights await attention. Senate Bill 432 would prevent most drone operation within 1,000 feet of the Mackinac Bridge, which connects the lower and upper peninsulas via Interstate 75, and is the fifth longest suspension bridge in the world. The bill is before the Senate Transportation Committee.
Senate Bill 487, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, would prevent drones from being flown within 1,000 feet of correctional facilities. AOPA Great Lakes Regional Manager Bryan Budds urged lawmakers to recognize federal jurisdiction over airspace, and to work cooperatively with the FAA to address safety and security concerns.
Federal law “preempts any state law impacting the National Airspace System,” Budds wrote in a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Rick Jones (R-District 24).
He added that most AOPA members—including more than 12,000 in Michigan—fly conventional general aviation aircraft, and are not directly affected by the proposed legislation. They believe, however, that the FAA’s sole statutory authority to regulate navigable airspace ensures its safety and efficiency.
“We certainly understand the growing sensitivity to the operation of unmanned [aircraft] systems in Michigan and the need to ensure the safety, security, and privacy of those impacted by such systems,” Budds said. “But AOPA members feel strongly that the FAA should maintain, as is codified in the Federal Code, the sole discretion to control airspace in the United States.”
AOPA’s advocacy team has visited lawmakers and bill sponsors to explain AOPA’s position, and looks forward to providing testimony if the bills are scheduled for public hearings in the two committees, Budds said.