FAA Settles Key Case Over Commercial Drone Use… Leaves The Rest Of Us With No Rules At All
from the ridiculous dept
As we’ve been covering for a while now, the FAA is doing everything it can to delay nearly all commercial use of drones, despite the many possible innovations drones can lead to. Are there some legitimate safety concerns? Absolutely, but the FAA’s approach of “ban everything” and then drip out a few exemptions here and there is problematic. Last year, we wrote about a key test case, involving Raphael Pirker, in which a judge declared that the FAA’s ban on drones was illegal (mostly for procedural reasons). A few months ago, that got overturned… and now Pirker and the FAA have settled the matter, with Pirker agreeing to pay $1,100 [pdf] while not admitting to any wrong doing:
Respondent agrees to pay $1,100.00 (the “settlement proceeds”) by January 22, 2015, to the FAA in full and final settlement of this matter.
It is understood and agreed that neither the Respondent’s execution of this settlement agreement nor payment of the settlement proceeds constitutes Respondent’s admission of any of the facts or regulatory violations alleged in the FAA’s June 27, 2013 Order of Assessment or the Amended Order of Assessment that will issue pursuant to this settlement agreement.
From a financial perspective, I’m sure it makes sense for Pirker to settle this agreement for $1,100, rather than having to pay a lot more to go to court. But for the rest of us, this kind of sucks. It would have been good to have at least been able to test whether or not the FAA’s rules are really legal. Or, at the very least, put more pressure on the FAA to stop dragging its feet and to start issuing actual rules that allow drones to be used for commercial purposes. The longer we wait, the more likely it is we cede innovation on this important area to other countries.