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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.

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  • identicon
    DigDug, 23 Jan 2015 @ 1:47pm

    Drones are just RC Aircraft not military drones

    Same rules apply for "Drones" - really just RC quadcopters, hexacopters, etc...

    Just because someone threw the military term "Drone" at them doesn't make them drones.

    To hell with the FAA on this one.

    All old rules fitting to RC Aircraft apply.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2015 @ 2:33pm

      Re: Drones are just RC Aircraft not military drones

      "All old rules fitting to RC Aircraft apply."

      But which old rules?

      The FAA's pre-Sept2001 rules or post-Sept2001 rules (which can basically be boiled down to just one rule: "whatever we decide at the moment.")

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John C, 23 Jan 2015 @ 1:50pm

    The best oversight 1958 has to offer.

    The FAA is reason aviation in the USA is essentially preserved in the amber of 1958.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2015 @ 2:25pm

      Re: The best oversight 1958 has to offer.

      "The FAA is reason aviation in the USA is essentially preserved in the amber of 1958."

      It had its advantages. Sticking with WWII-era vacuum-tube technology for flight-control electronics for many decades after society had abandoned the vacuum tube in favor of transisters and other semiconductors had an important unintended consequence, as semiconductors are easily damaged and rendered inoperable by strong radiation (as in a distant nuclear blast) while vacuum tubes are essentially impervious.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 23 Jan 2015 @ 1:58pm

    What would a bureaucracy with nothing to rule look like?

    The FAA needs to step carefully here, or they will be left with nothing new to lord over (their raison d'ĂȘtre, after safety of course). This is one of their steps into the 21rst century.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 24 Jan 2015 @ 1:48pm

    Like everything else our government does, they will do next to nothing until disaster strikes, and then they will go off the deep end. Its been a lovely war, drop all of your ordinance on my pos.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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