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...
3/8/2014 9:13:47 AM
The thing is, they already defined this.
Class G airspace, anything from under 700 feet AGL to 1200 feet AGL (above ground level), can be flown without any clearance requirements and is uncontrolled airspace wise.
Drones can completely operate in this area.
This means, you can rightfully fly anything in that space, given you are abiding within other laws of right of way. Any avid RC plane pilots would know this.
Voice radio communications is also not a requirement with Class G airspace.
The BIGGEST problem right now, is that Class G is UNCONTROLLED. Meaning it is solely up to the flyer and the craft owner to take responsibility in how they operate in that space. This means, the FAA DID leave it to the hands of aviation public for this area.
This is where some opponents to automated drones come in. I would say, that the responsibility would lie with the drone owners and operators rather than having another mandate with the FAA - because they already laid the rules for all other commercial and controlled airspaces,
RE: Go ahead FAA...
3/8/2014 9:23:50 AM
As is right now, many drone designers are forgetting the number one requirement that any flyer in airspace needs to adhere to, and that is communication amongst other aircraft and pilots of their intentions.
I would not want to take any craft above the Class G airspace, namely, because I cannot communicate my whereabouts, intentions, and in return know where other craft are, their intentions, and calls. Nor would an automated drone would be able to handle a human pilot's hailings to have the more nimble drones move out of the way of the oncoming or looked-ahead aircraft.
And if any, many drone makers and operators in my opinion, do need to know as a basic VFR pilot or if one would need to know in knowledge for a private pilot's license.
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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