Judge Dismissed FAA Fine Against Small Drone User

A federal judge has dismissed the first, and only, fine administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) against a commercial drone user.

As reported by Fox News, the grounds the FAA gave for the fine is in relationship to their authority to keep the burgeoning civilian drone industry out of the sky. However, the judge states that the drone is no different than a model aircraft, resulting for the dismissal.

Judge Patrick Geraghty, of the National Transportation Safety Board, heard the appeal of $10,000 fine against Raphael Pirker. He said that the FAA has no enforceable rule or regulations governing model aircraft flights, or for classifying model aircraft as an unmanned aircraft, just like the one Pirker was flying. The FAA, however, are not happy with the dismissal. They issued a statement on Friday saying they would appeal the ruling to the full NTSB, which has the effect of delaying the decision. They even made a statement, in a report by USA Today, on why they want to appeal it:

The agency is concerned that this decision could impact the safe operation of the national airspace system and the safety of people and property on the ground.

Another reason why the dismissal is important is because it undermines the FAA‘s authority. The agency regulates access to national airspace, therefore has the authority and power to bar drone flights, even when the drone is simply a toy. They included more details about their authority by stating:

There are no shades of gray in FAA regulations. Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft –manned or unmanned –in U.S. airspace needs some level of FAA approval.

The agency had been working for a decade on regulations to give commercial drones access to the national airspace without endangering manned aircraft and the public. Because of the agency’s slow progress, Congress passed legislation back in 2012 directing the FAA to safely integrate drones of all sizes into U.S. airspace by the end of September 2015. Unfortunately for the agency, they won’t be able to meet their deadline.

The regulations themselves are very lengthy and precise. In an earlier article, reported here on The Inquisitr, social media mega-site, Facebook purchased a large drone company in hopes of bringing internet to the rest of the world. Within the report, it explained how many regulations drones had to follow. It also stated how Facebook is avoiding U.S. airspace regulations because of how haphazardly strict they can be.

Brendan Schulman, the lawyer representing Pirker, said the judge’s decision was important because of the uncertainty about what is allowed for drones. He expressed this in the following statement:

I think it’s an extremely significant decision because for the first time ever we have guidance from a judge on whether the 2007 ban on commercial drone operations is legally enforceable. That’s guidance that many people in the industry have been looking for, for a long time.

As for the FAA, they will need to re-evaluate and reorganize if they want their authority over small manned aircraft to be taken seriously. Clearly they will update their guidelines and regulations. Pertaining to this, it will be up to hobbyists, who model aircrafts, to check up with the FAA, just to make sure they aren’t violating any regulations.

[Image via Wikipedia Commons]