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NTSB Overturns Former FAA UAS Ruling

By Juliet Van Wagenen | November 19, 2014
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An aerial photography UAS
An aerial photography UAS. Photo: flickr

[Avionics Today 11-19-2014] The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has determined that aerial photographer Raphael Pirker had operated an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) recklessly over the University of Virginia Campus in 2011. The FAA initially docked Pirker a $10,000 civil penalty for “operating an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner,” but a judge dismissed the case earlier this year. The original dismissal was on the grounds that Pirker’s UAS was similar to that of a model aircraft, and found that the FAA had not enacted an enforceable regulation regarding such aircraft.

The new decision finds that UAS meet the legal definition of “aircraft,” therefore allowing the agency to take enforcement action against anyone who operates UAS in a careless or reckless manner. The administrative law judge who issued the ruling is working to determine the factual determination of the “careless or reckless” nature of the operation in question. At the time of the incident, Pirker was shooting a promotional video on the University of Virginia campus.

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