DPA Files Legal Challenge to FAA Interpretation

The Drone Pilots Association, represented by Kramer Levin, has filed a Petition for Review of the FAA’s June 25, 2104 “Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft,” in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

During the pendency of the matter, legal fundraising will continue to ensure our ability to pay legal fees. If the Interpretation affects you in any way, please donate to the Legal Fund so that we may see this battle through to the end. (Note: Donations are not being solicited at this time.)

This is our chance folks. We are now fighting the FAA’s overreach, its dishonesty and its intimidation tactics before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The legal challenge we had hoped for is now a reality. It’s critical that we keep it going. Please give what you can to help all of us collectively.

Source: Forbes

Deadline to Challenge FAA Interpretation Looms

Time is running out to legally challenge the FAA’s June 25, 2014 Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft. If not successfully challenged before August 25, 2014, drone pilots will be barred from operating commercially, barred from flying in “first person view,” barred from operating within 5 miles of any airport without prior permission and will suddenly be subject to all Federal Aviation Regulations. The DPA is trying to raise money to fund a legal challenge.

With its Interpretation, the FAA has summarily “announced” that with the passage of the FMRA of 2012:

  • Compensation of any sort is banned. The FAA claims that flying a drone in a manner that is “in furtherance of a business” is illegal. That includes everything from the obvious (aerial photography) to the less obvious (flight instruction or demonstrations that would further one’s business). Even showing drone-obtained video and a company logo simultaneously online or on-air is considered “commercial.” Drone flights that are “incidental to a business” (which would not be considered “commercial” with a full-size manned aircraft) are considered commercial if done with a drone.
  • Flights within 5 miles of any airport require prior permission. Providing “notice” alone is no longer enough. You must obtain prior permission from ATC or Airport Operations whenever you fly within 5 miles of any airport, heliport, etc. Since the Interpretation doesn’t specify the size of the drone to which it applies, you must call for permission even if it’s a tiny, 1-ounce drone hovering 1-inch above the ground in your backyard.
  • Flying drones using “first person view” (“FPV”) is prohibited. This means you cannot use a modern “watch it on a monitor” system to fly or even the long-accepted “buddy box” method, where a second person (with a separate controller) observes the drone at all time while the pilot flies. Instead, the pilot’s eyes must be able to see the drone at all times while flying.
  • All existing Federal Aviation Regulations apply to drones. The Interpretation claims the definition of “model aircraft” applies to all Federal Aviation Regulations, even though the plain language of Section 336(c) makes it abundantly clear that the definition applies only to Section 336 itself. This means that all Federal Aviation Regulations, even those that cannot logically apply to an unmanned aircraft, apply to drones and the FAA can use any of those regulations for enforcement purposes.

There is, of course, nothing in the FMRA of 2012 that supports any of the FAA’s absurd interpretation. In fact, Section 336 specifically prohibits the FAA from promulgating any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft or an aircraft being developed as a model aircraft. Yet it has done just that because all of the above is new.

Most important, unlike a “policy” statement, an agency “interpretation” is legally binding from the time it is published in the Federal Register. If the Interpretation is not challenged with sixty (60) days of its publication, courts might consider it permanent and not subject to challenge. The deadline to legally challenge the Interpretation is August 25, 2014. The DPA is attempting to raise legal funds to cover the cost of a legal challenge. If you can help, please do.

Donations to Legal Fund is Now Open

You may now donate to the Legal Fund if you wish, using the “DONATE TO LEGAL FUND” link in the menu above. Donations take place on PayPal’s secure server. You may donate by using any major credit card, any debit card (having a VISA or MasterCard logo), or by using your PayPal account. Your donation amount will not be displayed publicly. Thank you in advance to those willing to donate.

Educational Resources Now Available

I have added some educational resources to the site. For now it covers “the basics” that all drone pilots should know. They are are available through the “Education” link in the menu at the top. If you can see anything on that page, make sure you are a DPA member, and that you are logged in. Additional educational resources will be added in the future.

1,000 Members Join Within First 3 Days

There’s been an overwhelming response to the Drone Pilots Association in its first three days of existence, with over 1,000 people signing up for membership. Thanks everyone. The next step will be raising funds for litigation to appeal the FAA’s Interpretive Rulemaking.

As a side note, some have expressed an unwillingness to join solely because of the use of the word, “drone.” That’s fine. Those who think the word drone is even remotely an “issue” shouldn’t join. The issues before us have nothing to do with a word. Only the ill-informed public, fed by the media using photos of military drones incorrectly, don’t understand the difference between military drones and the type we fly. This association will always use the word drone, as will everyone else― forever.

Over 28,000 Comments; Deadline Extended

The commenting deadline on the FAA’s Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft has been extended to 60 days, to September 23, 2014. From the extension document:

On July 16, 2014, the Academy of Model Aeronautics submitted a request to extend the comment period by 60 days, citing the need to “educate the aeromodeling community, clarify the issues, and respond to questions regarding the impact that the interpretive rule has on various aspects of the modeling activity.” The FAA agrees that additional time for the submission of comments would be helpful, and therefore has decided to extend the comment period until September 23, 2014. The FAA expects that the additional time for comments will allow the affected community to prepare meaningful comments which will help the FAA to determine what clarifications to the interpretation may be necessary.

Submit your comment here, using this simple guide created by a very knowledgeable hobbyist.

Deadline for Submitting Comments is Tomorrow

There are now 25,708 comments against the FAA’s unreasonable and overreaching Interpretive Rule, which it issued in direct violation of Sec. 336 of the FMRA Act of 2012. The deadline for submitting comments is tomorrow, July 25, 2014 at 11:59 PM.

If you haven’t already submitted your comment and you need some help, a very-qualified person (not me) wrote a simple guide to doing so, which is available here. It really does not take long to draft and submit a comment. Your comment should be submitted here.

Added Twitter Feed For Faster Info

I post stuff to Twitter way more frequently than I’ll be posting stuff here. So I’ve added my Twitter feed (TheDroneGuy) to the right-hand column. If you’re not a Twitter user, you don’t need to be, because it’ll show everything I tweet in realtime right here. You can scroll up and down to read ’em.

600+ Members Join DPA in First 24 Hours

Well, I’m pleased to say that at this writing, 24 hours after this site was launched, we have 618 members. That’s very good in such a short time for a brand new entity. I thank you all for joining, for your kind words and I encourage you to spread the word so our numbers can grow.