Uncrewed Aircraft Defined

Determining what is, and is not, an “aircraft” is so important because it determines whether it falls under the purview of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). If it does, then it is held to the same standard as traditional manned aircraft and must comply with all of the same requirements. 

Upon initial review, defining “uncrewed aircraft” seems to be intuitive and somewhat self-explanatory. However, with close examination and careful thought what is and is not “uncrewed” becomes less clear. For example, what if there is not a pilot in the aircraft but the aircraft is being flown by a person standing on the ground, using a remote control? Or must an “uncrewed” aircraft be one that is flown completely autonomously without any human input? 

The plain wording of Article 8 makes clear that the drafters intended “pilotless aircraft” to include aircraft that were remotely controlled, e.g., from the ground (via radio signals); thus, “pilotless aircraft” in the sense that Article 8 refers to an aircraft flown without a “pilot” of Article 32, which provides, “the pilot of every aircraft and the other members of the operating crew of every aircraft engaged in international navigation shall be provided with certificates of competency and licenses issued or rendered valid by the state in which the aircraft is registered”.

When is a uav – “pilotless”?

Defining “pilotless” is of great importance because, “no aircraft capable of being flown without a pilot shall be flown without a pilot over the territory of a Contracting State without special authorization by that state and in accordance with the terms of such authorization. Each contracting State undertakes to ensure that the flight of such aircraft without a pilot shall be so controlled as to obviate danger to the Civil aircraft.” 

The term “without a pilot” was later clarified to mean that an “aircraft which is intended to be operated with no pilot on board shall be further classified as unmanned,” Furthermore, “unmanned aircraft shall include remotely-piloted aircraft.” 

An aircraft is not required to be fully autonomous in order to be uncrewed. An aircraft that is controlled by a person is still “uncrewed”, so long as the person controlling the aircraft is not located within the aircraft. For example, a quad-copter- drone that is controlled remotely by a person on the ground is still an unmanned aircraft. RPA as “an [uncrewed] aircraft which is piloted from a remote pilot station”. 

all aircraft are subject to article 8

All uncrewed aircraft, whether remotely piloted, fully autonomous or combinations thereof, are subject to the provisions of Article 8 and inter alia the ICAO. Annex 7 makes it clear that remotely piloted aircraft (RPA), are simply one type of uncrewed aircraft, and all uncrewed pilotless aircraft, whether remotely piloted, fully autonomous, or combinations thereof, are subject to the provisions of Article 8 of the Chicago convention. Because RPAS are aircraft, ICAO is responsible for their international air travel. They are held to the ICAO standards.

Somewhat ironically, the Chicago Convention, which is considered to be the magna carta of civil aircraft, never actually defines the word “aircraft”. In 1967, in response to advancements in technology, ICAO re-defined “aircraft” as “any machine that can drive support in the atmosphere from the reactions of the are other than the reactions of the are against the Earth’s surface,” 

This change in the definition of “aircraft” came primarily as a response to the invention of “hovercraft”. A hovercraft is a machine that elevates itself off of the ground by pushing in downward to lift the vehicle off of the ground. Because a hovercraft creates lift by pushing air onto the ground it is not capable of “flying” more than a few inches in the air. 

The need for ICAO to redefine one of its most fundamental words, “aircraft” due to development of previously unforeseen technology—the hovercraft—is a perfect example of how quickly technology can change and how it can make prior norms outdated.

The Dunaway Law Group provides consulting to UAS programs across the United States.

What is an Easement?

how are easements created and/or terminated?

An easement is the right to cross over, under, or through the property of another person.

how easements are created

There are several methods for creating easements but the two most common ways in which easements are created are by an express act and/or “implication”.
1. Express Easement– An express easement is created by deed, contract, or other written agreement.
2. Implied Easement– An implied easement is created through the circumstances and facts surrounding the use of land which indicates the parties intended for the easement to exist.

terminating an easement

How Can an easement be terminated? Who Can Terminate the Easement? There are four (4) basic ways an easement can be terminated:

  1. Expiration of an Easement: An easement can be terminated by the expiration of an agreed upon time event. For example, there could be an agreement that an easement will last for 10 years at which time the easement will automatically terminate.
  2. Agreement to Terminate an Easement: Some easements are terminated by agreement of the owner of the easement. Termination by agreement happens when the owner expressly conveys the easement back to the grantor.

    For example, if Simon owns an easement over Garfunkel’s land, and Garfunkel requests that Simon release the easement, Simon may then execute the termination agreement and convey the easement back to Garfunkel. Once this agreement is signed by Simon, the easement in land will terminate.
Old abandoned building and rail.

3. Abandonment of an Easement: Easements can be terminated when the owner abandons his right to the easement. Usually, mere nonuse of an easement is not enough to qualify for termination. An easement may be terminated by abandonment only if the owner makes a clear, unequivocal, decisive act to abandon the easement.

What is a decisive act to abandon an easement? A decisive act to abandon an easement could include creating a new alternate road to enter the property or installing fencing or a wall or some other time of barrier across the easement.

4. Merger of Easement and Land: Easements can be terminated by merger. Under the doctrine of merger, if one party acquires the property subject to and benefited by an easement. The easement will have been said to merge with the other rights held by the owner.

This makes sense, because an easement is the right to cross over the property belonging to another person. However, if you own the land, the easement will merge into the land because it is impossible to have an easement over your own property.

Conclusion

Understanding easements and how they affect your rights can be very confusing, in particular easements on shared water wells. So, if you have questions about an easement on your Arizona property then contact the Dunaway Law Group at 480-702-1610 or by sending us a message HERE.

* The information provided is informational only, does not constitute legal advice, and will not create an attorney-client or attorney-prospective client relationship. Additionally, the Dunaway Law Group, PLC limits its practice to the State of Arizona.