The Federal Aviation Authority said Monday it would appeal a recent National Transportation Safety Board court ruling that found the FAA doesn't have jurisdiction to levy fines against private drone operators.
The ruling, which found that the FAA doesn't have jurisdiction because the unmanned aerial vehicle didn't fit the “aircraft” classification, could have major implications for the regulation of commercial drone use.
"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 agency said in a statement. “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."
Last fall, Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos captivated viewers around the world when he provided hazy details about the company’s drone project, Amazon Prime Air, on 60 Minutes
When the announcement was made, one of the primary hurdles was seen to be the FAA; the agency is currently working on regulations regarding the commercial use of drones. In November, the agency produced a road map toward drone regulation, which outlines how to integrate drones into the national airspace without “reducing existing capacity, decreasing safety, impacting current operators, or placing other airspace users or persons and property on the ground at increased risk.”
The FAA timeline calls for integration of non-government drones by September 2015, with a final rule regarding use coming at the end of the year. Amazon had hoped to get Prime Air underway by 2015.
In the case of the FAA appealing, the agency had levied a $10,000 fine against photographer Raphael Pirker for flying a Ritewing Zephyr near the University of Virginia in October 2011. The FAA alleged that Pirker, who was flying the drone as a commercial photography and videography enterprise, violated Part 91 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. Pirker operated the craft without a pilot’s license.