Court Rules FAA Does Not Have Jurisdiction Over Commercial UAVs

Another thanks to long term colleague Adena Schutzberg for her post. Turns out, just as was noted in an earlier blog this week that there are no laws currently on the books granting the FAA jurisdiction over commercial UAVs.

The case  of Pirker v. Huerta, involved Swiss drone pilot who filmed a commercial in Virginia and was fined $10,000 by the FAA. The pilot was the only person the FAA has fined and Pirker fought back. The judge dismissed the FAA’s fine.

This to me is not necessarily good news. I do think the commercial use of UAVs needs to be regulated, but I don’t think it should take years to develop the regulations. That is unacceptable. As  former Secretary of Transportation, I think it was Pena, once explained to his staff, “It takes 9 months to develop the most precious thing in the world. Everything else should take less time.”  Or something like that.

This entry was posted in Autonomous vehicles, Government, UAVs. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Court Rules FAA Does Not Have Jurisdiction Over Commercial UAVs

  1. Pingback: FAA vs. UAV | WiLDER LiDAR Blog

  2. Tom Kurke says:

    There is, and has not, been a ban on commercial drone use. The 2007 FAA “policy” document is not a regulation, the FAA did not follow necessary rulemaking steps, and the FARs relating to “aircraft” do not apply to “model aircraft” (and the FAA has taken this position themselves).

    The administrative law judge who granted Pirker’s Motion to Dismiss got it right. I would encourage everyone to actually read the ALJ’s decision (it is posted at my site too). By fining Pirker, and then not attempting to settle, the FAA appears to have played a bit of chicken and lost — because if it had just been settled quietly, the FAA could have continued to claim that a ban, in the absence of valid rulemaking, applied.

    Yes, there are technical challenges to be overcome – but the spin on this has long been that the FAA had properly promulgated rules addressing hobbyist flights, even for commercial purposes, in 2007. This is absolutely a different question from whether the FAA can issue such rulemaking (no doubt they can) and what should it be (which they are currently charged with doing).

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