For a good few months last year, commercial drones were completely legal and entirely unregulated, thanks in no small part to the persistent legal battle fought by a Swiss guy and his lawyer. Today, that legal battle is over—the FAA and Raphael Pirker have decided to settle, scoring the agency what has probably been the hardest and most frustrating $1,100 it has ever earned, reports motherboard.vice.com staff writer Jason Koebler.
The case revolves around Pirker getting paid what he calls “pocket money” for filming an advertisement at the University of Virginia with his drone. The FAA caught word of the flight, in which Pirker used a couple-pound foam drone and hurt no one, and decided to fine him $10,000. Pirker hired a lawyer named Brendan Schulman and fought the case, eventually beating the FAA.
Pirker “does not admit to any allegation of fact or law herein, and by not contesting this Amended Order of Assessment is resolving the matter solely to avoid the expense of litigation,” the settlement reads. In other words, this just goes away, because both the FAA and Pirker are tired of it.
The original decision, however, opened the floodgates for drone enthusiasts everywhere: The judge decided that drones were not “aircraft” and therefore any use of them was essentially unregulated by the FAA. That decision was overturned in November by an appeals court, but for a good eight months there, the FAA was virtually powerless to do much of anything about people who flew drones commercially.
Continue to motherboard.vice.com to read the full story “The Commercial Drone Pilot Who Ruined the FAA’s 2014 Has Settled His Case.”