Saturday, March 22, 2014

Air America Anarchy

It's back to the drawing (up regulations) board for the FAA--that, or Appeals Court;
In 2011 the Federal Aviation Administration slapped him [ Raphael Pirker] with an unprecedented $10,000 fine after he used a drone to record a promotional video of the University of Virginia campus. The FAA charged that he had operated without a license and flown recklessly close to buildings, cars in a tunnel and pedestrians.
In his defense, Mr. Pirker noted that his drone—a five-pound Styrofoam model airplane—caused no injury or damage. More significantly, he argued that the U.S. government was acting lawlessly, prohibiting commercial drone use based only on model-airplane guidelines from 1981 that were explicitly "voluntary" and never carried the force of law.
Two weeks ago, Patrick Geraghty, an administrative law judge for the National Transportation Safety Board, emphatically agreed. "There was no enforceable FAA rule" concerning Mr. Pirker's aircraft, he wrote, and the government's insistence amounted to a "risible argument" that the FAA has authority over anything that moves through the air, including even "a paper aircraft, or a toy balsa wood glider." The judge threw out the fine and, with it, the federal ban on commercial drones.
Hell hath no fury like a federal agency treated with scorn, so we expect a counterattack soon.

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