Drone Operators Push Back On FAA Regs

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With the FAA running into a legal quagmire over its blanket ban on commercial drone use, operators are losing patience. A Texas group that uses drones to help search for missing people told the Wall Street Journal they plan to challenge the FAA's restrictions in federal court. The FAA responded that the group should try to partner with a law-enforcement agency that already has a certificate of authorization for drone operations. Meanwhile, one retailer told the Journal that drone sales have increased by more than 25 percent since an NTSB ruling that blocked the FAA's enforcement of its no-commercial-use policy. The company has fielded dozens of inquiries from potential commercial users. "They're emboldened and we have to tell them to use caution," said Steve Klindworth, CEO of UAV Direct.

The FAA has filed an appeal to the NTSB ruling, and until that challenge is heard, the matter is on hold. The agency has said: "Anyone who wants to fly an aircraft—manned or unmanned—in U.S. airspace needs some level of authorization from the FAA." So far, the agency has approved one commercial operation for the use of drones in the Arctic. Congress has directed the FAA to come up with a plan for “safe integration” of drones into the national airspace system by Sept. 30, 2015. The FAA has said that such integration will be incremental.