FAA issues guidelines to its field inspectors, advising them to educate before taking enforcement action

Good news, I think. Last week the FAA issued a National Policy Notice (N8900.268) to its field inspectors, directing them to counsel and educate UAV operators before considering whether to take enforcement action.   It is just three pages, with attachments.   My take on this is that the FAA has taken a beating in the media and among the public in trying to shut down small UAV operators, whether it is search and rescue, beer delivery, filming a wedding, or other very low risk operations, and this is an effort to moderate that.

So, consistent with what the agency regularly assures the public – the FAA’s interest is in compliance, not enforcement (although enforcement is one or several means to achieve compliance) – this guidance instructs inspectors first to counsel the operator, and if warranted, send an “informational letter.”  Enforcement action should be reserved for operators who are “uncooperative or intentionally noncompliant” or where an operation “poses medium to high risk” to the National Airspace System (NAS), and even in such a situation, the FAA should consider whether a warning letter or letter of correction instead of a civil penalty is appropriate. (An “intentionally noncompliant” operator is one who commits repeat or intentional violations.)

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Comment by Gary McCray on August 3, 2014 at 10:47am

The FAA is still in the position of attempting to enforce informal regulations that they have composed out of thin air and for which they have no legal basis what soever.

They are still in the process of telling people they are breaking a law when in fact that is simply untrue.

They are attempting to enforce laws that in fact Do Not Exist!

I believe the closest examples of similar behavior are the SS, the KGB and the Stasi.

Comment by Timothy Clemans on August 3, 2014 at 7:16pm

This has been their strategy for a while. Now that there have been two negative court cases the FAA probably doesn't want anymore court cases.

Comment by Cliff-E on August 3, 2014 at 10:35pm

@Chris

You've hit it on "compliance" being the key word. It's the only way for the FAA to promote self-regulation in the industry. For instance in big corporations, they can set policies that force all departments to follow compliance (hint: my team is hitting that scenario even before directly involving the FAA, as it becomes a risk management issue) with clear defined rules even with vague gov't regulations. Being out of compliance makes it fair and clear for the FAA to make up any justification to enforce penalties--even if the rules are vague... which they likely will be.

You see this strategy everyday in the HR dept when it comes to sexual harassment, fair employment, and ethics--I'm sure everyone has take a compliance video course in that on one of those topics from their employer.

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