Three Lawsuits Are Flying in Court Against the FAA

Posted by Betsy Lillian on August 25, 2014 No Comments
Categories : Policy & Regulations

Several organizations are challenging the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft by filing three lawsuits in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

According to the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the interpretation – which was published in the Federal Register on June 25 – is contrary to the text and intent of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Public Law 112-95, and violates Congress' specific prohibition on any new rules or regulations regarding model aircraft that are operated pursuant to a community-based organization’s standards.

According to a Forbes report, Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney for commercial drone laws, filed the lawsuits and represented several companies and organizations that feel their operations will be hindered by the FAA's restrictions.

One lawsuit, Forbes says, represents AMA, which says in a release that the FAA’s purported interpretation effectively establishes an array of new regulations that model aircraft enthusiasts have never been subject to in the past and poses an immediate and direct hardship on model aviation.

According to the report, the second lawsuit is related to the commercial industry and was filed in the interest of organizations including the Drone Pilots Association, the UAS America Fund, Skypan International and FPV Manuals LLC. The other suit is on behalf of the Council on Governmental Relations, which conducts research for science with the help of model aviation.

Although AMA says it has worked cooperatively with the FAA in the past – and hopes to continue to do so – the academy has filed its petition for review within 60 days of the issuance of the FAA interpretation, by necessity, in order to assert its legal rights, it explains.

“Aeromodeling has been a stepping stone to careers in aviation and aerospace for many young people in this country, and AMA is concerned that the FAA’s interpretation of the law will diminish our ability to continue to be the pipeline for young talent that will become the next generation of engineers this country so sorely needs,” says Dave Mathewson, executive director of AMA.

In July, the FAA listened to AMA’s request for a 60-day comment extension of the interpretive rule. The agency established the new deadline for public comments as Sept. 23.

The FAA recently saluted AMA for fostering model aircraft safety. ‘Safe model aircraft operations bring the joy of recreational or hobby flying to more people than ever before,” commented Michael Huerta, FAA administrator. “We commend AMA for its outstanding work. AMA’s detailed procedures promote safe model operations and serve as an excellent resource for AMA members and non-members alike.”

The FAA’s interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft can be found here.

Read the entire Forbes report here.

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