October 9th, 2013
Here is and update on the legal fight going on against the FAA regarding the shutdown of US airspace to commercial UAVs. A couple of weeks ago I reported that “Trappy” of Team Blacksheep (Swiss citizen, Raphael Pirker) was in the process of fighting the FAA in court and that the essence of his legal argument was that the FAA policy regarding commercial UAVs is not enforceable law.
Brendan Schulman, Trappy’s attorney, read my post and sent me a link to his legal brief (40 page PDF) which is the detailed argument of why Brendan and Trappy believe the FAA policy regarding commercial UAVs is not enforceable. The argument in the brief sounds pretty solid to me!
Brendan Schulman presented this argument to the NTSB Administrative Judge on Friday, Oct 4. and that resolution of the case is waiting for a ruling from the judge. Brendan expects “weeks at a minimum” before a ruling from the Judge. The government shutdown will delay the decision even longer.
Today David Kravets of Wired.com reported on this subject and said:
Pirker is fighting the citation before the National Transportation Safety Board, challenging the FAA’s assertion that it has the power to supervise the use of unmanned drones. If Pirker prevails, the FAA’s 2007 ban on the commercial use of unmanned drones — a thriving overseas business — may be nullified.
Pirker’s legal battle throws a spotlight on a commercial drone scene in the United States operating in a grey area. The FAA has issued dozens of cease-and-desist letters to operators of commercial model aircraft, forcing some companies to shut down. Others, however, are performing their aerial filming and crop and real estate surveying businesses underground — or sometimes right in the open.