Commercial drones are legal in the US, court rules [UPDATE: FAA appeals]

Update 3/7: The FAA has appealed

From Motherboard:

For the moment, commercial drones are, unequivocally, legal in American skies after a federal judge has ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration has not made any legally binding rules against it.

The judge dismissed the FAA’s case against Raphael Pirker, the first (and only) person the agency has tried to fine for flying a drone commercially. The agency has repeatedly claimed that flying a drone for commercial purposes is illegal and has said that there’s “no gray area” in the law. The latter now appears to be true, but it hasn’t gone the way the FAA would have hoped. Patrick Geraghty, a judge with the National Transportation Safety Board, ruled that there are no laws against flying a drone commercially.

The FAA attempted to fine the 29-year-old Pirker $10,000 after he used a drone to film a commercial at the University of Virginia. Pirker and his lawyer, Brendan Schulman, fought the case, saying that the FAA has never regulated model aircraft and that it’s entire basis for making them “illegal,” a 2007 policy notice, was not legally binding. The FAA has never undertaken the required public notice necessary to make an official regulation.

Geraghty agreed: The FAA “has not issued an enforceable Federal Acquisition Regulation regulatory rule governing model aircraft operation; has historically exempted model aircraft from the statutory FAR definitions of ‘aircraft’ by relegating model aircraft operations to voluntary compliance with the guidance expressed in [the 2007 policy notice], Respondent’s model aircraft operation was not subject to FAR regulation and enforcement.”

Views: 7624

Comment by Patrick Egan on March 6, 2014 at 6:57pm

Ding dong the witch is dead! Funny I had a call with the FAA this morning and no mention. 


Developer
Comment by Tom Pittenger on March 6, 2014 at 7:10pm

This is great news, can't wait to get on with the commercial stuff in the USA!

Comment by Matt Gunn on March 6, 2014 at 7:24pm

The laws will still come and when they do, the restrictions will choke us little guys.

Comment by Matt Gunn on March 6, 2014 at 7:26pm

Don't get me wrong, Im very happy. I was one of the 12 companies issued a cease and desist (I never actually got the official letter, I found out about it from a reporter that got the list from the FAA). I just know that that will make them work faster and harder to create laws to police us unfortunately. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Comment by Max on March 6, 2014 at 7:33pm

Good stuff :D

Grats Trappy!

Comment by The Sun on March 6, 2014 at 7:57pm
I am very happy about this finally happening
Comment by Gary McCray on March 6, 2014 at 8:02pm

I am really happy with this outcome, all along I have been saying the FAA was claiming restrictions not in evidence.

However, make no mistake, there is no possibility that the now exposed situation will remain status quo for very long.

The FAA has mud on it's face, but they are the FAA and in the long run, now the short run, they have to fix this.

It is a very dangerous situation that now exists and they know it, they couldn't simply bully the community into compliance, but they will have to act quickly now to produce and get passed enforceable regulations.

This has exposed a very serious loophole and there is going to be considerable and immediate emphasis on getting it plugged.

And they will prevail - they have to.

So drink and be merry and toast Trappy today, but don't go out tomorrow and buy a big commercial photo copter, that chapter is still to be written. 

I do suspect it will be written faster now and we can only hope that it won't completely rain on our parade.

As a side note, it is not entirely beyond possibility that the FAA actually sought this outcome so that they could more quickly and easily get the congressional clout they needed to emplace the regulations they want.

Naah! their not that clever - - are they?

Comment by Andrew Ferrara on March 6, 2014 at 8:05pm

Time to make money while you can!

Comment by Gary Darling on March 6, 2014 at 8:05pm

I don't think this is yet over. FAA can seek an emergency rule. There is still the appellate court to go through and FAA as I understand it can still be granted a stay of the lower court judgement.

Still, it was silly to have banned commercial/government use in the first place. Patrick now that you are able to fly will you stop your efforts to ground those in state government that want to use an sUAS e.g AB1327?


Moderator
Comment by Dwgsparky on March 6, 2014 at 8:37pm

Great News for everyone south of the border (with Canada). Its good to know you guys have a judge with common sense. At least the FAA now will have to made laws in a correct way and that has the benefit of oversight from the legal system

Congratulations to Trappy and his law team, good job guys. Your work has helped everyone. 

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