MAPPS Establishes Aviation Legal Plan, Retains Legal Counsel for Aerial Acquisition Issues

MAPPS Establishes Aviation Legal Plan, Retains Legal Counsel for Aerial Acquisition Issues
MAPPS, the national association for private sector geospatial firms, today announced that it has entered into an agreement with The Aviation Law Firm, based in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, to provide legal services for the purpose of addressing legal issues related to aerial acquisition activities affecting the association and its membership.
Under the terms of the agreement, MAPPS will receive legal advice and assistance to address aviation related issues raised by the membership. In addition to the services provided to MAPPS, the agreement also provides a means by which individual MAPPS member firms can utilize the law firm's services for its own individual needs. Counsel will be provided by Mr. Gregory "Greg" Winton, Esq., a former trial attorney for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the U.S. Department of Justice.
"This agreement is focused solely on aviation related laws and regulations," said John Palatiello, MAPPS Executive Director. "With advancements in aerial acquisition and airborne remote sensing technology and the introduction of unmanned aerial systems, we believe having legal counsel in this important and specialized field is advantageous to addressing aviation related issues."
"I am excited to be working with the professionals that make up the MAPPS organization. The legal issues that MAPPS will address are complex in the grand scheme of the aviation environment, as a result of the uniqueness of the profession, use of sophisticated technology, as well as the required mission planning and operations," said Winton. "The issues that are confronted by MAPPS often result from a misunderstanding of the aerial acquisition activities causing erroneous categorizations within regulations, which are not a threat aviation safety."
The catalyst for the partnership comes in the wake of new regulatory guidelines impacting the safe use of light detection and ranging (LIDAR) operations in the United States. MAPPS has been working with Congress and the FAA to demonstrate the safe use of LIDAR technology to collect remote sensing data. However, due to language passed in the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2012, some obstacles have occurred that require greater attention.
"MAPPS member firms operate aerial missions safely and within FAA guidelines on a daily basis all across the United States. This partnership is meant to protect the membership and the profession from unintended over-regulation," said Richard Crouse (Richard Crouse & Associates, Inc., Frederick, MD), MAPPS Aerial Acquisition Committee Chairman. 
"Photogrammetry and remote sensing technologies operate in a niche within general aviation, but not everyone understands our operations. Mr. Winton and his team will employ their expert knowledge to help educate policy makers about our profession and operations." 
The announcement of the plan and a discussion of aviation law and regulations, specifically impacting LIDAR, was presented at the MAPPS Summer Conference in Rockport, ME. The legal services plan is only open to firms that are members of MAPPS.
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