Case in point: The FAA has filed a brief with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) detailing the legal basis for its appeal of the Raphael Pirker decision, according to an article by Forbes.
In early March, an NTSB judge dismissed a $10,000 civil penalty the FAA had levied against Pirker for flying a UAS on the campus of the University of Virginia in October 2011. Pirker never received authorization from the FAA and was compensated for his services.
In his rendering of the case, Administrative Law Judge Patrick Geraghty reported that the FAA has excluded model aircraft from its regulatory and statutory definitions. Although he asserted that a model aircraft is deemed a UAS when it is used for business purposes, he noted that the FAA's prohibition of UAS operations without special airworthiness certificates is based upon a February 2007 policy statement that is not binding upon the general public.
As such, Geraghty concluded that at the time Pirker operated the UAS, there was no enforceable rule or regulation regarding model aircraft or for classifying such aircraft as UAS.
For its part, the FAA contends that the judge erred in his decision. The agency claims in its brief that Geraghty was wrong in his estimation that Pirker's UAS was not an aircraft and, hence, not subject to Federal Aviation Regulations.
Essentially, the FAA argues that the drone was indeed an aircraft, not a model aircraft. Such a distinction would leave the Pirker case under the regulatory jurisdiction of the agency.
The entire NTSB board will make a judgment on the FAA's appeal.
Read the full Forbes article here.