Trappy ended up paying



Raphael Pirker agreed on Thursday to pay the FAA $1,100 to settle the agency’s $10,000 fine for allegedly flying a drone recklessly to film the University of Virginia in 2011. Under the settlement terms, Mr. Pirker doesn’t admit to guilt and the FAA agreed to drop some of its accusations against Mr. Pirker.

The FAA declined to elaborate beyond the details of the settlement.

Mr. Pirker’s attorney Brendan Schulman said his client decided to settle because the length of time needed to finish the case and recent comments by the FAA “have diminished the utility of the case to assist the commercial drone industry in its regulatory struggle.” The FAA has said its authority to regulate drones stems from a 2012 statute that post-dates Mr. Pirker’s flight.

The FAA fined Mr. Pirker, a dual national of Austria and Switzerland, in 2012. The case gained attention after a federal administrative law judge ruled this past March that Mr. Pirker’s plastic-foam drone was a model aircraft and thus not subject to FAA rules for manned aircraft. The decision cast doubt on the FAA’s authority to regulate drones.

In November, the National Transportation Safety Board overturned that decision and ruled that drones are aircraft and subject to aviation laws, affirming the FAA’s regulatory power over the devices.

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  • I know exactly how trappy feels, I too just lost my case against the FAA(appealed just like him through a law judge, kinda won, then lost completely on the second appeal with the NTSB board).

    the FAA wins 80% of their cases. the appeal process is nothing but a dog an pony show (and making lawyers rich)

    I too (really have a lot of similarties with trappy) moved to hong kong to get away from the USS of A. Grew up there and spent the first 34 years of my life there, and now have no desire to live in that country again due to the government. 

  • It's a civil claim, not a criminal finding. In fact nothing was found at all in the end! If the FAA had rolled over they would be liable for Trappy's expenses so they were never going to do that. Only reduce their claim to a value that isn't worth fighting over.
    Such is life in the court of "law"
  • The FAA declined to elaborate beyond the details of the settlement.

    it's LAW or BAZZAR? lol

  • I really enjoyed Team Blacksheep's response. Too bad they had to pay, but they raised a lot of publicity for our cause in the mean time.

  • I agree with Randy, thank you for the link, it is well worth reading and makes sense of the whole thing from Trappy's standpoint.

    I am just sorry that they had to yield anything at all to the bully FAA, who in the end got the settlement, not because they were in anyway correct, but simply because they got the venue transported to the NTSB who is apparently much more interested in supporting their FAA buddies than in actual justice.

    I guess if you have the clout to have your own buddies trying the case you can never lose.

    Only us, the American people for whom these damn idiots are supposed to work lose.

  • Developer

    @John Dennings,  thanks for that great link with Trappy's response, it's definitely worth reading!

    Go Team BlackSheep!

  • Acom,  the defense I believe was pro-bono. (Brendan Shulman is an avid RC enthusiast.) Otherwise yes, it  probably could have been close to six figures. Quite a deterrent, that the FAA was probably (wrongly) counting on. ...

  • I know people who after seeing his NYC and UVA videos wanted to ban drones.   I know you all believe what a swell guy but I think he's has in the long run done more harm than good. 

  • His legal fees must have been huge. More than $10K.

  • Very thoughtful and well written statement from Team Blacksheep here:

    Congrats and thanks to Raphael Pirker and Brendan Shulman.

    Not too many thanks to the FAA for such a waste of taxpayer's money.

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