Yesterday, a National Transportation Safety Board judge ruled that the Federal Aviation Administration could not fine anybody for using small, hobby-plane-sized commercial drones use because it hadn’t made any legally binding rules against them. That went against everything the FAA had ever claimed with regard to commercial drones. So in an unsurprising move, the FAA today appealed this decision.
“The FAA is appealing the decision of an NTSB Administrative Law Judge to the full National Transportation Safety Board, which has the effect of staying the decision until the Board rules,” the organization wrote today. “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.”
For the time being, then, the legal situation around drones remains as murky as ever. While it seems plenty of real estate companies are shooting photos of houses from small quadcopters and they remain in heavy use for video production and other uses, the FAA continues to argue that commercial drone usage is essentially illegal.
Because it’s perfectly okay to fly these same small drones for non-commercial reasons (though the FAA would prefer it if people at least followed a few common-sense guidelines), the FAA seems somewhat out of step with reality on this issue.
The FAA wasn’t expected to make any rules for commercial drone usage before the end of 2015. Maybe all this activity around this court case now will get it to speed up the process a bit.