Print 39 comment(s) - last by Mint.. on Mar 11 at 6:47 AM

The FAA is currently working on regulations that would allow drone deliveries without putting the public or manned aircraft in danger

Amazon may be able to get its drones up in the air after all, as a recent court case found that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) lacks the authority to ban the commercial use of drones in the continental U.S.
According to Market Watch, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) administration law judge found that the FAA shouldn’t have fined a man $10,000 because his drone was no different than a model aircraft. 
Raphael Pirker, an aerial photographer, flew a small drone near the University of Virginia while making a commercial video in October 2011. The FAA fined Pirker $10,000 in an attempt to regulate commercial uses of small drones in U.S. airspace.
Pirker then appealed the fine, and the court found that the FAA doesn’t have any regulations that govern model aircraft flights or those that classify model aircraft as an "unmanned aircraft." In other words, the line between drone and toy hasn't been drawn. 
The FAA successfully banned the commercial use of unmanned aircraft over the U.S. airspace (until it develops rules for their part in the national airspace, at least), but there are no clear-cut rules for commercial drone use. In fact, the FAA is considering dealing with the drones on a case-by-case basis. In this case, it wasn't clear if it was an unmanned drone or toy plane.

The FAA believes that it should be able to ban drone flights because it has the power to regulate access to the national airspace.

The FAA isn't completely against commercial drones. In fact, it's currently working on regulations that would allow drone deliveries, thanks to a law passed by Congress in 2012 that told the FAA to have the rules ready by September 2015. But since those regulations are not yet complete, the subject is a huge grey area for now. 

In December 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said he wanted to use unmanned "Prime Air" drones for small package delivery. Bezos said the company is currently testing unmanned, octocopter drones called "Prime Air" that have the ability to deliver small packages to customers in just 30 minutes.

Source: Market Watch

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Typical FAA
By mgilbert on 3/7/2014 1:54:25 PM , Rating: 2
The FAA loves these frivolous, high dollar fines. They love screwing pilots over. Typical Big Brother... I've flown lots of models, and all were bigger, faster, and more dangerous than these little quadcopter drones. I built one model plane with a nine foot wingspan, and a 23cc gasoline engine. I've also flown large model helicopters, big and powerful enough to kill if they hit you in the head. The FAA needs to quit looking for excuses to screw people. These little drones are not a significant danger to anyone.

RE: Typical FAA
By Mint on 3/7/2014 3:05:13 PM , Rating: 3
Yean, and lots of people can say they've driven cars without hurting anyone. That doesn't mean they'll come to the inane conclusion that police need to stop enforcing traffic laws.

Danger isn't even the only issue. The bigger one is about the public nuisance of having these all over the damn place when they get cheap.

RE: Typical FAA
By Reclaimer77 on 3/7/14, Rating: 0
RE: Typical FAA
By Belegost on 3/7/2014 5:58:43 PM , Rating: 3
So I might be with you, except reading further in other places it actually seems like this pilot was flying his RC aircraft in an unsafe manner. Take from Ars Technica's article(1):
The Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), which lobbies for "model aviators" and acts as a liaison to the FAA for them, was also taken aback by how close Pirker’s remote aircraft—flown in first-person view mode from a distance—came to buildings, ships, bridges, and a national landmark. In a statement for the AMA, spokesperson Rich Hanson said, “The nature of the flight was outside the realm of recreational aeromodeling activity as defined by the AMA Safety Code and posed a significant threat to people and property.”
In the case of the Virginia flight, Pirker allegedly flew his styrofoam plane within 100 feet of an active helicopter pad and 20 feet above a crowded street. The FAA claimed one person had to take “evasive maneuvers” to avoid being hit by the plane, and the administration issued its fine for operating the drone “in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another."
My belief is that an individual's rights to do something end when they threaten the rights of others. If the way this person was operating the machine was a "significant threat to people and property" then I believe that consequences are necessary as a safeguard on the rights of others not to be endangered by unsafe remote control piloting.

The fact that the regulations have not caught up with technology here merely makes this not currently illegal.


RE: Typical FAA
By jasonb on 3/7/2014 6:42:13 PM , Rating: 2
Then the state can choose to prosecute under existing reckless endangerment laws.

RE: Typical FAA
By Mint on 3/11/2014 6:23:18 AM , Rating: 2
And how do you prosecute those you cannot identify? How do you track a drone involved in reckless activity to its owner?

These are going to get cheap enough that they can easily do more damage (particularly that relating to spying and invasion of privacy) than they cost.

RE: Typical FAA
By Reclaimer77 on 3/8/14, Rating: 0
RE: Typical FAA
By Belegost on 3/8/2014 11:47:23 AM , Rating: 3
That does not give the FAA jurisdiction over all RC activity. And it sure as hell doesn't mean they can arbitrarily fine you tens of thousands of dollars because they "think" you were being unsafe. What happened to due process and innocent until guilty?
Never said it did, I was just pointing out that your assertion this person was just "minding his own business" and "Nobody was at risk, nobody was going to be hurt" don't match with what others, including the activist group supporting model plane pilots, say. The judge rightly pointed out that there was no existing law covering this, and hence the FAA was wrong.
Nice platitude, but it must be tempered with some reality. A little boy flying a kite could lead to you losing an eye, or wrecking your car. Accidents happen.

You people think you can legislate and regulate away every single activity until zero risk to others is achieved, it's ridiculous. It's impossible.
A little boy responsibly flying his kite in an open park with adult supervision has a low probability of causing harm to anyone, though it could happen. However if this little boy is flying a high speed stunt kite over a busy downtown square buzzing people as they walk by the risk of harm is hugely increased.

Thus you have successfully pointed out the need for laws that are non-vague and describe the cases where the actions of people have reached a point of negligent disregard for the safety of others.

I don't want some fairy world with no risk, that's nonsense. However I feel I have a reasonable expectation that I should not have to deal with unnecessary risk caused by others simply being irresponsible. Overall I wish we could just use basic laws on reckless endangerment - but thank the lawyers who will argue the sun is black until night comes for making it impossible to have a small body of reasonable laws covering general scenarios.
Yes I bet you just can't wait until all the evil RC pilots can only operate in their designated zones, after paying outrageous licenses and fees to our Federal overlords for the "privilege".
Why would I want that? I want clear laws on what reasonable limits are. In the past model planes have been more restricted to flying within line of sight of the pilot, because real time video communications were too expensive and/or slow to maintain. Now we have the ability, which means it's far easier for someone to fly their craft in an unsafe manner far from their actual location. And as this example shows there are people willing to be irresponsible with it, so it seems like rules limiting flights, so that there is say a reasonable area around helicopter landing pads that craft should avoid, and a reasonable distance from visible civilians to maintain. If someone is found to have violated these rules they should be fined accordingly.

And as I see it the AMA already has guidelines in place, they know that responsible flying will keep them from being targeted for Draconian licensing and zoning.

To make it more personal, I am a fan of classic weapons, I own several swords and a 4 ft battleaxe made by a friend with a forge. I have the right to own these, and I honestly feel I should have the right to carry them responsibly in public (which I don't). At the same time I in no way feel like I have the right to walk around the city swinging my axe around on the streets where it is very possible I could harm someone. Why? Because I'm a responsible effing adult. The fact that there are others who can't limit themselves is why we need laws to define limits and consequences from exceeding those limits.

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