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NTSB: Drone Flights Are Subject to FAA Regulations

The government has the power to hold drone operators accountable when they operate the remote-control aircraft recklessly, a federal safety board ruled Tuesday in a setback to small drone operators chafing under Federal Aviation Administration restrictions. The FAA had fined Raphael Pirker, an aerial photographer, $10,000 ( More...

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The decision is consistent with the definition of aircraft in 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 1: "Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air." It is difficult to really argue that a drone is not a "device" nor that it is "intended for flight in the air."It baffles me that the Administrative Law Judge didn't rule based on the 14 CFR Part 1 definition in the first place.

Drones have a place in aviation, but to borrow a quote from Nick Sabatini, they need to "do no harm." Airworthy drones flown by people that understand the rules and responsibilities for flight in the airfare are the keys to moving forward and making drone use mainstream.

As an owner of a DJI Parrot 2 Vision +, I would very much like to use it beyond the "hobby and recreation" use I now fly it under and welcome regulations that will provide clarity to the safe flight and privacy aspects of flying drones in the nation's airspace.
Ric Wernicke 1
John you are using common sense in reading the 14 CFR definitions. However, while there is much common law in our history, there is little sense.

When the clause "is used or intended to be used for flight in the air." one must ask who is using it? Who means that a person is using the device to fly through the air. Since model planes do not carry people they [according to CFR 14] are not aircraft.

If we apply the definition as you suggest, crisply folded sheet of paper or a helium balloon would be considered "aircraft."

If Clint Eastwood's empty chair was doing the job elected to perform, he would have directed his agencies to formulate rules that allow remotely piloted vehicles to be sensibly operated. Instead he makes proclamations that gives many people who broke immigration laws amnesty. I have to cut him some slack though, he does live in the same house with his mother-in-law.
joel wiley 1
A link to the NTSB decision so you can see how close the news reports get.
Pay up sucker!

joel wiley 1
I imagine there will be an appeal. There are lawyers involved.
$10k fine cheap compared to lawyer. Lol
joel wiley 1
Not to the lowyer. Chortle
Jeff Lawson 1
More details in these articles as well:
Stefan Sobol 1
The FAA needs to legally define "drone" and legally distinguish it from "model aircraft". Right now, the press generally refers to anything with more than two rotors as a "drone" (i.e. quadcopter). A lot of the things you can do with a quad you can also do with a conventional model aircraft (e.g. video your neighbor sunbathing in their backyard, FPV). As it stands now most "model aircraft" meet most of the generally understood requirements for a drone and could be subject to enforcement action.

There is one case where an organization in the western US used "remote operated aircraft" to locate lost people (hikers and such). They were shut down by the FAA for using "drones" outside of the current regulations.

Right now about the only regulation is that citizens using drones is illegal.
bob krech 1 describes what actually happened after the FAA issued a $10,000 fine to the "drone" pilot. The "first court of appeals" for FAA fines is a NTSB administrative law judge who dismissed the FAA's fine on the pilot of the drone. The FAA Administrator appealed this reversal to the NTSB and subsequently they reversed the opinion of their administrative law judge and remanded it back to the court for a full hearing. I suspect there will be many appeals by all sides of this issue and that nothing will be resolved until the Congressionally mandated FAA UAV regulations are developed and clarified.
joel wiley 1
Many points of Law and Regulation are not resolved until tested in the Courts. Nobody wished to pursue this one, until now.
(Duplicate Squawk Submitted)

NTSB Overturns Judge's Ruling in Pirker UAV Case

In the end, it came down to what the definition of an "aircraft" is. In a landmark legal decision that will have a far-reaching impact on the FAA's ability to crack down on those accused of operating UAVs recklessly, the National Transportation Safety Board today overturned a judge's earlier ruling that small remote-operated aircraft aren't subject to the Federal Aviation Regulations.


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