NTSB Rules That Drones Are “Aircraft”Posted: November 18, 2014
Flying a drone over the University of Virginia for the purpose of taking commercial photographs of the university may cost the drone operator $10,000 for violating the Federal Aviation Administration’s prohibition against flying “aircraft” in a reckless or careless manner. (Allegedly the drone operator scared the bejesus out of someone by flying the drone “directly towards an individual standing on a . . . sidewalk causing the individual to take immediate evasive maneuvers so as to avoid being struck by [the] aircraft”; “through a . . . tunnel containing moving vehicles”; “under a crane”; “below tree top level over a tree lined walkway”; “under an elevated pedestrian walkway”; and “within approximately 100 feet of an active heliport.”)
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ruled yesterday that drones are “aircraft” within the meaning of FAA regulations. The drone operator, and lots of amici, had argued that a drone was a “model aircraft” and that the FAA regulations only applied to manned aircraft. The NTSB rejected that argument as inconsistent with the plain language of the relevant regulations.
The decision will have significant implications for drone enthusiasts, including people and companies who want to use drones for various commercial and noncommercial purposes, including newsgathering. I hope to have more on those implications in a future post.
Click here to read the NTSB decision.