Rescue organization loses against FAA drone ban

July 19, 2014 13:02 | By | 2 Comments

The US rescue organization Texas Equusearch, an NGO founded by the father of a missing child, has lost a court case against the FAA’s recently released interpretation of the law on UAVs. They lost not because of factual evidence, but because the FAA’s release is the “legal opinion of the FAA” and not a “decision with legal ramnifications”.

This line of reasoning is quite interesting because the FAA is already sending cease and desist letters and emails to organizations known to use UAVs, so it’s kinda difficult to argue that the FAA was just stating an opinion vis-a-vis acting upon it.

The FAA’s side of the story is that they’re keeping the skies safe etc. etc. – not an unreasonable point to make, just not related to the issue at hand. After all, it’s not like drones aren’t already part of aviation today, so broadly restricting civilian use due to “possible safety issues” is not really a compelling argument while military flight tests are sometimes not even filed beforehand.

UPDATE: To clarify, and because vice.com missed the point of the court ruling entirely, and a blog post on dyidrones quoted vice.com verbatim: The court threw out the Equusearch vs. FAA case beforehand because they said the cease and desist letters were not “real” cease and desist letters under the law, and thus don’t trigger the possibility to sue against. Vice is incorrect when they say that Equusearch has “won” anything. On the contrary, there is now no way to legally challenge the FAA position until after they fined someone under these new “interpretations”.  If anything, the FAA won, because their motion to dismiss was granted.

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Comments (2)

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  1. jeremiah boye says:

    this is wrong info the faa lost check out both texas equusearch and diydrones for more info

    • fpvcentral says:

      DYIDrones got their info from Vice.com (http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-faas-cease-and-desist-orders-to-drone-pilots-are-bogus-appeals-court-rules), which misinterpreted the ruling.

      “Rather, given the absence of anyidentified legal consequences flowing from the challenged email, this case falls withinthe usual rule that this court lacks authority to review a claim “where ‘an agency merelyexpresses its view of what the law requires of a party, even if that view is adverse to the party.”

      In essence, the court threw out the case because they said that as long as the FAA don’t charge someone for conduct in violation of their “interpretation”, you cannot even initiate legal proceedings.

      That’s not what a lawyer would call “winning”.

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