Wednesday, March 12, 2014

FAA Authority Over Unmanned Aircraft Called Into Question

Last week an administrative law judge overturned a fine that had been levied against an aerial photographer for his operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle in 2011. The judge ruled that existing airspace regulations were not intended to apply to vehicles of this type. While the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 clearly authorizes the FAA to adopt regulations to incorporate small UAVs into the national airspace system, the first of those regulations is not expected until November. Arguably, the FAA lacks legal authority to apply many of the rules written for manned aircraft to the operation of unmanned aircraft, which would mean that until the new rules take effect, commercial UAV use could operate free from regulation. The FAA is appealing the ruling.

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