March 20th, 2015
Faine Greenwood over at Slate.com has a great article on the FAA’s harassment of Jayson Hanes in Tampa (that I reported last week) and Steve Girard in Portland. These two cases illustrate the confusion around what does and doesn’t constitute commercial UAV usage in the US.
The article concludes that:
It’s not at all certain that the agency has any intention of backing up these threats. As of this writing, the FAA has yet to actually prosecute anyone for commercial usage of a UAV—and some, such as Connecticut attorney Peter Sachs, argue that until the FAA’s proposed voluntary guidelines on UAV usage become final, there are no actually enforceable laws at all.
The two cases outlined in the article are both hobbyists that the FAA has accused as operating commercially but there is not much confusion about whether shooting real estate is commercial. My general feeling is the FAA is just harassing people that are flying to try to keep flying UAVs a minimum until the guidelines become law because they realize as Peter says, “there are no actually enforceable laws.”
Update 3/21/2015: Be sure to read Craig’s awesome story below. Craig’s story confirms my gut feelings that I have on this issue. Thanks Craig for passing it along.