An administrative judge invalidated a fine yesterday against an individual who used a small drone for the commercial purpose of taking and selling photographs. The decision has been heralded, rightfully, as a blow to the Federal Aviation Administration’s ability to regulate private drone use in the United States.The administrative hearing was heard by a judge with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and it overturned a fine by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) against Raphael Pirker. Pirker successfully challenged the fine by arguing that the FAA had not properly enacted a rule against the use of his "model aircraft," and that the FAA's statements on model aircraft were non-binding.
The FAA is appealing the NTSB's order, and it will be interesting to see how this case proceeds. The FAA is scheduled to release comprehensive regulations on the use of unmanned aircraft before the end of 2015, but it will be interesting to see if this case ends up speeding along that process.
You can read the full NTSB decision here.