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“From Tech Toy to a New Industry: Commercial Use of Drones and the Regulatory Foundation Laid by Pirker”

On May 27, 2014 by Schnader

Justine Kasznica and Barry S. Alexander recently authored “From Tech Toy to a New Industry: Commercial Use of Drones and the Regulatory Foundation Laid by Pirker” for the May 27, 2014 edition of Skywritings, the newsletter of DRI’s Aviation Law Committee. In the article, the authors detail the case of Huerta v. Pirker, in which Pirker challenged a civil penalty of $10,000 assessed by the FAA based on Pirker’s alleged reckless operation of an unmanned aerial system (UAS). Pirker was operating a radio-controlled aircraft over the University of Virginia Medical Center to aerially film the campus for the purpose of creating a promotional commercial about the medical school.  

On March 6, 2014, an NTSB Administrative Law Judge ruled in favor of Pirker, concluding that the FAA regulations do not apply to model aircraft such as the one Pirker was operating.

The article evaluates the Pirker decision (now on appeal) in the context of the rapidly growing drone industry, an industry upon which spending is expected to total as much as $89 billion globally over the next ten years.