The case against Raphael Pirker who as fined for reckless use of a UAV has been winding its way through the court system. While there is a lot of stirring about the recent decision from the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) that the FAA is permitted to regulate all aircraft, its not the end of the case. Surprisingly the case itself has Pirker winning since the most recent appellate decision found him not guilty. Previously the definition of aircraft did not include “model aircraft” and the NTSBs decision simply changes the definition of aircraft to include aircraft which gives the power to the FAA to regulate them. By the NTSBs definitions even a paper airplane could be considered to be regulated by the FAA. The one big factor that isn’t mentioned in most of the discussions is that the FAA’s own current regulation allow for operation under 400’ but do not allow for “reckless” operation which isn’t defined in this space again demonstrating how little information is truly accurate. The FAA itself isn’t even sure how to handle everything as at times they simply want to ban everything and at other times realize the backlash that would ensue.
So where does that leave the UAV operators. It leaves us wondering. Between local, city, state, and federal regulations the ability to operate or not in any given space is nearly impossible to determine on any meaningful macro basis. While many operators fear the FAA and regulation I would argue its a good thing. The community of operators need to reach out to the FAA and band together to work with them and localities to institute reasonable regulations that allow for operators to prove they can operate their UAVs in a safe and responsible manner. The larger businesses, such as Autodesk and others, need to work with the operators and utilize their political clout to show the politicians that there can be safe airspace that includes UAVs. Lastly the operators and business partners need to reach out to the public and defeat the media’s hyped up reporting intended to garner viewers by scaring them about UAVs and operation of UAVs. This last piece is tantamount to any possible successful outcome for everyone. So lets all work together to clear up all these confusing regulations.
IATSE Local 600
Photo Credit: Flickr user unten44