Drone Flights Illegal.

Excerpt from above article:

Some very bad news for drone pilots this morning: An appeals board has ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration has wide latitude to make all drone flights illegal in the United States.

​The decision, by the National Transportation Safety Board, determined that the FAA's existing "aircraft" regulations can apply to model aircraft, drones, and remote controlled aircraft, which is perhaps the most restrictive possible outcome for drone pilots in a legal saga that has dragged on for more than a year.

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  • And this is not the end of the story.  The NTSB ruled as Benjamin states, and then remanded the case back to the administrative law judge so that he/she can rule, on the basis of evidence presented at trial, whether Pirker was being "careless and reckless" per FAR 91.13.  But that too is not likely to be the end of the story:  regardless of the law judge's ruling on the 91.13, Pirker can appeal decision of the NTSB in the Federal Courts, so that they can rule on the question of whether Pirker's quad is an aircraft within the meaning of the regulation...the court can reverse or uphold the NTSB decision.

    Regardless of the outcome of this case, it is clear that we who build and fly these vehicles MUST adhere to safety standards and practices as contained in the model aircraft advisory circular.  One actual collision between an airplane and one of our vehicles might be sufficient to trigger Congress into writing new law, and if this happens, they aren't likely to be gentle or very forgiving.  In the absence of regulations, we must police ourselves to avoid conflict with other air traffic.  If we don't, we'll pay a very painful price for what is now essentially free access to admittedly very limited airspace.  

  • Most of this is irrelevant.  Most drones are flown on private property.  The supreme court has ruled that you own the airspace over your property at least as much as you can use "in connection with the land".

    So the FAA has no real authority to dictate what you can and can't do in your own airspace.

    How high is that airspace is a question for the courts to decide.  But it's safe to assume that it's at least as high as the tallest structure you could legally and reasonably build.

  • first the congress is not the only body that can make laws in this country, its always been that all THREE branches (president, congress and court system.) can make laws.

    to all of you that feel regulation will stop the growth of the industry you have no understanding of history or reality really.

  • That isn't my intent. Given the fact my quad is of experimental nature, that is one option, but for real commercial work when the license is available, I would expect that the craft would need to have an approved air worthiness certificate especially if it will be flown in populated areas. The FAA is already gearing up for that at several locations in the USA. Both the pilot and the UAV will need to pass certain standards such as RTL with loss of signal from transmitter, the ability to auto land, etc. Those capabilities are certainly available today. Don't think they won't be looking at the construction of the UAV at the same time. The ability of the pilot to handle "emergency" situation will also be evaluated. For instance, loss of a motor during flight. Choosing an alternate landing area to protect the public and property will be standard operation as it is with small single engine aircraft. A parachute may be one solution, but I have also seen other option in software that show promise. This industry is just getting off the ground.

  • Excellent information!

  • @daleshort 

    HR658, (otherwise known as FAA Modernization and Reauthorization Act of 2012):

    (a) IN GENERAL.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law
    relating to the incorporation of unmanned aircraft systems into
    Federal Aviation Administration plans and policies, including this
    subtitle, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration
    may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model
    aircraft, or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft, if—
    (1) the aircraft is flown strictly for hobby or recreational
    (2) the aircraft is operated in accordance with a community based
    set of safety guidelines and within the programming
    of a nationwide community-based organization;
    (3) the aircraft is limited to not more than 55 pounds
    unless otherwise certified through a design, construction,
    inspection, flight test, and operational safety program administered
    by a community-based organization;
    (4) the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not
    interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft; and
    (5) when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator
    of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport
    air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located
    at the airport) with prior notice of the operation (model aircraft
    operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of
    an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating
    procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic
    control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the
    (b) STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION.—Nothing in this section shall
    be construed to limit the authority of the Administrator to pursue
    enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who
    endanger the safety of the national airspace system.
    (c) MODEL AIRCRAFT DEFINED.—In this section, the term ‘‘model
    aircraft’’ means an unmanned aircraft that is—
    (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;

    (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating
    the aircraft; and
    (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.

    49 CFR 830.2 (NTSB)

    Unmanned aircraft accident means an occurrence associated with the operation of any public or civil unmanned aircraft system that takes place between the time that the system is activated with the purpose of flight and the time that the system is deactivated at the conclusion of its mission, in which:

    (1) Any person suffers death or serious injury; or

    (2) The aircraft has a maximum gross takeoff weight of 300 pounds or greater and sustains substantial damage.

    Preamble to current version of 830.2, Federal Register 2010-20864:

    "Further, the NTSB intends its inclusion of the phrase ‘‘public or civil’’ in the amended rule to exclude military UASs, model aircraft, and commercial spacecraft operating under FAA waivers."

  • AKA South Park......"Blame Canada"

    *Oh wait, drones are legal here, well in a couple of weeks they will be :)

    What a mess, sorry guys :(

  • @Craig, ok, you can try to get an experimental certificate for your quad.  In the unlikely event you are successful, 91.319 will still apply -- that is, you can't use it for commercial purposes.

  • @daleshort, that is brilliant.

  • "Federal regulations require operators to notify the NTSB immediately of aviation accidents and certain incidents.

    Contact the NTSB's 24-hour Response Operations Center (ROC) at 844-373-9922 to file a report."

    Gee I think now that the NTSB says all model aircraft are aircraft we'll just have to call and files reports until they realize the implications of this decision.

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