Judge rules FAA has no authority over drones - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Judge rules FAA has no authority over drones

(Source: CBS 5 News) (Source: CBS 5 News)

An administrative law judge with the NTSB ruled Thursday that the FAA has no decision making authority over the operation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS, also known as UAVs or drones) temporarily clearing the way for commercial use of the vehicles.

A 2007 rule written by the FAA banned the use of drones for commercial purposes, but the recent ruling invalidates that rule.

Up until this point, Chandler UAV owner and operator Chris Hilton used his inexpensive quad copter UAV as a hobby. He could use it for anything except making money.

"A lot of people for a long time have said there's a lot of money to be made," said Hilton. "This is a multi-billion dollar industry. Anywhere from ten to ninety billion dollars."

UAVs could assist realtors to create videos that could help to market homes and real estate. Delivery services have expressed interest in utilizing the technology. It could benefit law enforcement and fire department agencies in surveillance and safety.

"We see this as having a huge societal benefit," says Hilton.

Hilton says other nations have developed laws that deal with UAVs and he feels the U.S. is lagging behind in utilizing the technology and capitalizing on its economic potential.

"I want to move forward as quickly as I can to not only identify companies but also applications," said Hilton.

He has already pieced together a business plan and plans to solicit companies on practical business applications for his drone once the issue clears all legal hurdles.

The FAA announced Friday it plans to appeal the judge's ruling. The appeal will be heard by a panel of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) members.

The agency released a statement late Friday reading:

The Federal Aviation Administration today issued a notice appealing a decision by an NTSB Administrative Law Judge in the civil penalty case, Huerta v. Pirker.


"The FAA is appealing the decision of an NTSB Administrative Law Judge to the full National Transportation Safety Board, which has the effect of staying the decision until the Board rules. The agency is concerned that this decision could impact the safe operation of the national airspace system and the safety of people and property on the ground."

New York City attorney Brendan Schulman represents defendant Raphael Pirker, who the FAA fined for flying a drone around the University of Virginia grounds.

In an email exchange with CBS5 late Friday, Schulman indicated he had not been made aware of the FAA's decision to appeal.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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