Appeals Court Overturns FAA Model Aircraft Registration Requirement
Court to FAA: "[You] are just making stuff up."
Source: Dronelife.com CLICK FOR FULL ARTICLE WITH LINKS
In a stunning defeat for the FAA, a federal appeals court has deemed the FAA’s drone registration program unlawful as it applies to model aircraft. (The ruling does not impact Part 107, or registration for commercial drones.) The ruling is the result of a case brought by John Taylor, a recreational drone operator and attorney from Maryland vs. FAA Chief Administrator Michael Huerta about the legality of drone registration. In his suit, Taylor claimed that the registration program went against Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which states that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” While the FAA responded to this accusation by stating that the registration program was not a new rule but simply a new (online) way of accommodating the established rule requiring aircraft registration, the judges weren’t buying any. During the case, the judges told the FAA attorney that they were “just making stuff up,” and that their legal argument was faulty.
The opinion and accompanying court order released this morning [May 19] were direct and scathing.
“In short, the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act provides that the FAA ‘may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft,’ yet the FAA’s 2015 Registration Rule is a ‘rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft,'” states the written opinion. “Statutory interpretation does not get much simpler. The Registration Rule is unlawful as applied to model aircraft.”
The phrase “the Registration Rule is a ‘rule or regulations regarding model aircraft'” is repeated throughout the decision. The judges had little patience for FAA’s claims that the Registration Rule was nothing new. “The FAA’s arguments to the contrary are unpersuasive,” says the opinion. “…the FAA has never previously interpreted that registration requirement to apply to model aircraft…The FAA claims that the Registration Rule is therefore not a new requirement at all, but merely a “decision to cease its exercise of enforcement discretion…We disagree.”
The FAA also argued that the Registration Rule was necessary to comply with the directive to “improve aviation safety.” But the judges dismissed that argument, saying that according to law the statutes as written must be followed without consideration of shifts in policy.
The result of the case was a court order “that Taylor’s petition for review of the Registration Rule be granted and the Registration Rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft be vacated…”
The following site is claimed to be a fund to support Mr Taylors work. http://fund.dcdrone.org/contribute/
Pilot whose drone knocked a woman unconscious gets 30 days in jail under existing laws
Paul Skinner, an aerial photographer whose drone knocked a woman unconscious, has been sentenced to
30 days in jail and slapped with a $500 fine.
Skinner flew a two-pound 18-by-18 drone in 2015 to cover the city's Pride Parade. Unfortunately, the machine hit a building and fell on the 25-year-old woman's head in the audience, knocking her unconscious. It also injured a man nearby. The photographer was found guilty of reckless endangerment back in January and faced a year of jail time and up to $5,000 in fines.
It marked the first time Seattle's City Attorney's Office charged someone with mishandling a drone in public. While 30 days of jail time and $500 in fines are but a tiny fraction of what Skinner faced, his lawyer, Jeffrey Kradel, believes the punishment is still too severe for something that was clearly an accident. He told the Seattle Times that he thinks his client is being used as an example to scare other drone pilots.
Assistant City Prosecutor Raymond Lee, however, told Seattle residents that they "should not fear a drone strike falling from the sky" and that Skinner created the situation that ended up harming a couple of people.
Skinner has another hearing scheduled to determined how much he owes the woman for her medical bills. He'll also have to take a drone safety course even if Kradel goes through with his plan to appeal the verdict.
Los Angeles Criminal Drone Case Ends in Acquittal but Law Appears to be Still in Effect
Filmmaker Arvel Chappell was charged on December 15, 2015 of violating the new Los Angeles City Drone ordinance. He was originally charged with three violation of three sections involving where and when he was accused of flying his multicopter.
At preliminary hearing he announced his defense would be that the FAA has preemptive jurisdiction over aircraft, which the FAA has vigorously said includes unmanned aerial systems. The city attorney was unprepared to defend this argument and ended up dropping the three charges, but adding a fourth charge of operating an aircraft in a reckless manner.
The matter went to jury trial. Details of the trail are not known but the result was an acquittal on the remaining charge. It does not appear to have been resolved whether or not the ordinance itself is lawful. So those flying UAS in Los Angeles may still be subject to arrest.
Industry Protests Feinstein’s Proposed Drone Amendment (April 13)
A group of drone industry stakeholders sent a letter to the Senate yesterday, protesting Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) proposed drone amendment to the 2016 FAA Reauthorization Act.
At issue are Feinstein’s proposed amendments #3558 and #3650 to the 2016 FAA Reauthorization package. The amendments would change or strike a provision in the Reauthorization bill that establishes federal authority to enact drone regulations, prohibiting states for passing their own drone laws that might come into conflict with FAA rules.
LA Times Continues It's Anti-Drone Campaign
In the latest (April 14) series of editorials, the Times calls for more and more and more regulations on recreational "drones"; cites Sen Feinstein's proposals.
Senate debates contentious provision against state drone laws;
California Sen Feinstein supports restrictive local UAV laws
USA Today WASHINGTON – The Senate is debating contentious legislation aimed at preventing states and cities from adopting drone laws amid an ongoing battle pitting the federal government and drone industry against local lawmakers. The bill provoked a fight because dozens of states adopted laws on subjects such as banning weapons on remote-controlled aircraft or requiring police to issue a warrant to use drones for surveillance.
The Federal Aviation Administration, however, contends it alone governs national airspace. The U.S. Code states the federal government has complete sovereignty over airspace. To reinforce that position, pending Senate legislation governing the FAA initially said that no state could enact a law about the “design, manufacture, testing, licensing, registration, certification, operation, or maintenance of an unmanned aircraft system, including airspace, altitude, flight paths, equipment or technology requirements, purpose of operations, and pilot, operator, and observer qualifications, training, and certification.”
But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has proposed to drop that language. Her state has been a leader in developing local drone laws after complaints dealing with privacy and safety, such as high-flying drones grounding planes that fight wildfires. “Reckless drone use varies significantly in different states and even within a state, which is why we need to maintain the ability for states to set their own standards of drone operation,” Feinstein told USA TODAY.
3 Drone Myths Worth Busting
Please read this and forward it
The drone industry may have a PR problem. Elected officials seem frantic to enact regulations we don’t need for problems that don’t currently exist or which are already being addressed. It’s amazing how the media can take a flicker of truth and fan it into a flaming overstatement. It might be helpful to take a deep breath.
Here are three myths that could benefit from a reality check.
Is Amazon behind Senate FAA and Senate "drone" legislation?
Behind Amazon’s Increased Lobbying Efforts The Company’s Overarching Goal—Becoming not just the Everything Store but the Everything Business
Concurrent with these moves, the e-commerce giant has been steadily increasing its lobbying reach. As recently reported in The New York Times, Amazon was the fastest-growing tech lobbyist in 2015, spending $9.4 million. While that amount falls short of Google’s lobbying expenses, it’s almost twice as much as Amazon spent in 2014. The company has enlisted government insiders and former elected officials to try to influence pending federal legislation and regulations on drones, delivery truck sizes, highway improvements, and the U.S. Postal Service—issues that will have a significant impact on Amazon’s long-term plans.
Senate’s FAA Bill Now Includes Drone Amendments
Kevin Carty | April 12, 2016 source: morningconsult.com
The Senate voted unanimously to adopt four drone-related amendments to S. 2658, which would re-authorize the Federal Aviation Administration through fiscal year 2017.
One of the amendments — all of which were adopted on Monday evening — would establish criminal penalties for the reckless use of drones. That amendment, offered by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), would penalize drone operators who fly near airports without prior approval.
Another amendment, offered by Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), would extend until 2022 a drone testing program set to expire in 2017, while an amendment offered by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) would specify the FAA’s responsibilities to establish and report on a new approval procedure for drone operators.
Senators also adopted an amendment requiring the FAA to coordinate with a Mississippi-bas
ed drone research group as the agency develops new safety rules. That amendment was offered by Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.).
The FAA legislation, approved by the Senate Commerce Committee last month, already includes several drone provisions of its own. For example, the measure would require the government to craft risk-based safety standards for the aircraft and establish a process for the approval of small drones.
Senate Commerce FAA bill heads for Wednesday markup; contains model aircraft exemption