Technology

FAA notches win in drone war

Ruling says FAA may penalize people for recklessly piloting aircraft

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) can crack down on people who operate drones in a reckless or careless manner, the nation’s transportation safety board ruled today. The decision could give some drone operators pause, as it clarifies that the FAA has at least some authority over drone use. Yet it does not seem to directly address the question of whether people may legally operate drones for commercial purposes without special certification, assuming they do so in a safe manner. The safety board’s ruling overturned a judge’s dismissal of the FAA’s case against the only person it has attempted to fine for drone use so far, Raphael Pirker. That judge had concluded that Pirker’s unmanned aircraft was a model aircraft, and that the FAA hadn’t enacted enforceable rules governing such aircraft. But the aviation safety board has determined that model aircraft meet the FAA’s regulatory definition of “aircraft” and are therefore subject to regulation ...