Firm and Consulting Team for Landmark Drone Project

June 3, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, McGuireWoods and its full-service public affairs arm McGuireWoods Consulting have been working together more closely than ever to help clients achieve their goals. One recent example involves Charlotte partner Trish Hosmer, whose finance practice includes substantial aviation work, teaming up on a groundbreaking project with Gregory Walden, a Washington, D.C.-based senior advisor in MWC’s emerging technologies group and former chief counsel of the Federal Aviation Administration.
The duo is assisting Novant Health Inc., a North Carolina-based not-for-profit, integrated system of medical centers, which is working with San Francisco-based drone delivery company Zipline in securing FAA approval for Novant Health to operate a small, unmanned aerial system to enable delivery of critical medical supplies to a number of medical center facilities.
The teams have helped Novant Health overcome significant challenges. “Few drone operators have received the special authority needed to deliver personal protective equipment and other medical supplies between and among healthcare facilities,” says Walden, a national aviation authority who also is a partner in the law firm. “A waiver from the FAA is needed to operate beyond the visual line of sight of the remote pilots, and such a waiver in an urban environment is difficult to obtain.”
Yet, as Hosmer reports, the FAA recently granted waivers to permit some operations, which began at the end of May.
“There is still much work to be done to expand operations to other of our client’s facilities,” Hosmer says, “but there are a number of ‘firsts’ accomplished by the FAA approval, and Greg and I are excited to have been able to help our client during this emergency.”
Hosmer lauds Walden’s work and the seamlessness of the working relationship. “Greg’s knowledge of the drone industry and his relationships within the FAA paired well with my aviation contracts experience, all proving integral to the success of this project for our client,” she says. “This is a great example of how Consulting and the firm are working together. I’m clearly seeing the government affairs side of our consulting group in action.”