In a monumental ruling yesterday, Federal Judge Patrick Geraghty dismissed the FAA’s case against drone operator and businessman Raphael Pirker, on the grounds that the agency has no authority to regulate commercial drone use.
In October of 2011, the FAA fined Pirker $10,000 for piloting his $130 remote-operated flying wing over the University of Virginia, filming aerial video to use in an advertisement for the UVA Medical Center. The FAA banned such commercial use in a 2007 policy notice, but until the Pirker case they had never enforced it. Geraghty, a judge with the National Transportation and Safety Board, decided that the FAA’s authority does not and has never extended to aircraft like Pirker’s, going so far as to write that such an “overreaching interpretation of the definition ‘aircraft’ would result reductio ad absurdum in assertion of FAR regulatory authority over any device/object used or capable of flight in the air, regardless of method of propulsion or duration of flight.”
3D Robotics C.E.O. Chris Anderson said of the decision, “This is a significant ruling and a welcome opportunity to bring more clarity to the regulatory framework for this emerging industry. Anything that accelerates the process of clear and reasonable regulations is good for innovation, the exploration of new applications of this fast-moving technology, and ultimately the public good.”
Read more about the Pirker decision here.