You’ve got to be kidding! The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) decided today that the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) rules for manned aircraft also apply to unmanned aircraft. And their definition of aircraft is anything “invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air.” So current federal regulations apply to “any aircraft, manned or unmanned, large or small”.
I guess that means drones, radio-controlled airplanes, your kid’s water rockets, and even their paper airplanes! Crazy!
The FAA has allowed some commercial drones to fly in the US. In June, the FAA granted the first commercial drone license to oil giant BP. In September, six Hollywood production companies were granted licenses to use drones while filming television shows and movies. But everyone else flying drones without FAA permission is doing so illegally. Drones are being used today to film scenes in movies, film sporting events, map agricultural land, photograph homes for real estate marketing and many other uses. How’s that going to work out?
We’ll be following the case of Raphael Pirker, who was fined $10,000 by the FAA for flying his Ritewing Zephyr drone to record a video on the University of Virginia campus in 2011. An NTSB judge ruled for Pirker in March, saying the FAA has not yet determined rules for drones and therefore could not regulate their use. The FAA appealed which resulted in today’s ruling.