Court Rules that FAA Cannot Ban Commercial Drones, Dismisses $10,000 Fine for Drone User
March 7, 2014 1:14 PM
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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.
, 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.
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RE: Go ahead FAA...
3/7/2014 8:54:17 PM
My attitude on these issues really is personal responsibility and common sense.
For example, in regards to noise as a nuisance, rather than putting laws in place to cover every single device that makes noise and banning half of them because they might be too loud, there are blanket laws that cover noise generation in general. So if somebody wants to have an air compressor for example in their garage in a residential neighborhood, they can as long as they install soundproofing to make it quiet enough.
Likewise, rather than banning "drones" because of other problems that they might create in some scenarios - which at this point are still projections rather than a proven reality - how about just making sure that legislation exists to handle the nuisance side of things, and see if a market for useful drones can adapt around it?
Leave it up to local governments to weigh the pros and cons of allowing drone use in public areas. Let existing regulations on noise and safety cover other potential problems, and make sure that people who do cause damage are held liable so they don't want to do something risky with them.
Maybe we will find that as a whole, we really do not want drones coming around bothering us, and the benefits of say, 30 minute Amazon delivery aren't worth the nuisance under any circumstances. That's fine. But on the other hand, it's possible that we might find drones really useful and rather than blanket banning of them, there is a good compromise that can be found that offers a combination of pros and cons that we're in favor of.
"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer
Quick Note: Amazon to Use Unmanned Drones for 30 Minute Package Deliveries
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