Small UAS legality unclear in wake of NTSB move

decrease font size  Resize text   increase font size       Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

A National Transportation Safety Board judge on March 6 threw out the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s $10,000 fine against the operator of a small unmanned aircraft, prompting a fresh look at the FAA’s authority to regulate small UAS as well as some celebratory flights around the country.

However, the FAA announced the next day that it will appeal the decision, which stays the earlier decision until the NTSB rules again.

“The agency is concerned that this decision could impact the safe operation of the National Airspace System and the safety of people and property on the ground,” the FAA said in a statement announcing the appeal.

The case is Huerta v. Pirker, and it revolves around a 2011 action by Raphael Pirker, who flew a RiteWing Zephyr aircraft to collect images for the University of Virginia for pay, which the FAA said was illegal.

NTSB judge Patrick Geraghty ruled that the FAA has historically not treated model aircraft as regular aircraft. He also noted that the flight took place before the 2012 FAA reauthorization, which requires the agency to integrate UAS, including small ones. Because of that language, he concluded that at the time of Pirker’s flight, “The legislators were of the view there were no effective rules or regulations regulating model aircraft operation.”

Brendan M. Schulman, a lawyer from Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, who represented Pirker, heralded what the ruling meant for the technology. 

“This decision is a victory for technology," he said. "It establishes that the federal government must engage in the proper rulemaking process, including consultation with the public and interested constituents, before placing burdensome rules and restrictions on emerging new technologies.”

While some UAS enthusiasts declared the skies to be open for small UAS based on the ruling, AUVSI also urged a focus on safety, while noting that FAA delays have contributed to an urgent desire for commercial use.

“Our paramount concern is safety,” AUVSI President and CEO Michael Toscano said. “We must ensure the commercial use of UAS takes place in a safe and responsible manner, whenever commercial use occurs. The decision also underscores the immediate need for a regulatory framework for small UAS.”

Buyers Guide

Doyle Equipment Manufacturing Co.
Doyle Equipment Manufacturing prides themselves as being “The King of the Rotary’s” with their Direct Drive Rotary Blend Systems. With numerous setup possibilities and sizes, ranging from a  more...
A.J. Sackett Sons & Company
Sackett Blend Towers feature the H.I.M, High Intensity Mixer, the next generation of blending and coating technology which supports Precision Fertilizer Blending®. Its unique design allows  more...
R&R Manufacturing Inc.
The R&R Minuteman Blend System is the original proven performer. Fast, precise blending with a compact foot print. Significantly lower horsepower requirement. Low inload height with large  more...
Junge Control Inc.
Junge Control Inc. creates state-of-the-art product blending and measuring solutions that allow you to totally maximize operating efficiency with amazing accuracy and repeatability, superior  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The flagship blending system for the Layco product line is the fully automated Layco DW System™. The advanced technology of the Layco DW (Declining Weight) system results in a blending  more...
Yargus Manufacturing
The LAYCOTE™ Automated Coating System provides a new level of coating accuracy for a stand-alone coating system or for coating (impregnating) in an automated blending system. The unique  more...
John Deere
The DN345 Drawn Dry Spreader can carry more than 12 tons of fertilizer and 17.5 tons of lime. Designed to operate at field speeds up to 20 MPH with full loads and the G4 spreader uniformly  more...
Force Unlimited
The Pro-Force is a multi-purpose spreader with a wider apron and steeper sides. Our Pro-Force has the most aggressive 30” spinner on the market, and is capable of spreading higher rates of  more...
BBI Spreaders
MagnaSpread 2 & MagnaSpread 3 — With BBI’s patented multi-bin technology, these spreaders operate multiple hoppers guided by independent, variable-rate technology. These models are built on  more...

Comments (0) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Declining Weigh Blending System

Ranco Declining Weigh (DW) is the standard in fertilizer blending because of the speed and accuracy of the blending process. ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Feedback Form