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NTSB judge rules commercial drones are legal, reverses FAA ban

updated 07:33 am EST, Fri March 7, 2014

Six-year FAA ban on drones declared not legally binding by judge

Commercial drones are legal in the United States, a judge on the National Transportation Safety Board has ruled. A fine against a drone operator by the Federal Aviation Administration will not stand, as it has been decided by Judge Patrick Geraghty that the FAA does not have any enforceable rule or regulation that applies to the usage of model aircraft.

The FAA attempted to fine drone pilot Raphael Pirker $10,000 for using a drone to film a commercial at the University of Virginia, reports Motherboard. Pirker's legal team fought on the basis that the FAA has never regulated model aircraft, and as such, a 2007 policy notice banning drones was not legally binding.

Amazon delivery drone
Amazon delivery drone

Judge Geraghty sided with Pirker, ruling that the FAA "has not issued an enforceable Federal Acquisition Regulation regulatory rule governing model aircraft operation," and has historically exempted such aircraft from FAR definitions and making compliance voluntary.

While it is possible for the FAA to appeal the ruling via the US Court of Appeals, the nullification of the FAA's drone ban means that companies can continue to develop their own drone efforts, such as the delivery system proposed by Amazon, with less worry of government regulation.

by MacNN Staff



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