Drone Pilot Settles With FAA Over Video Flight


A drone pilot who fought a $10,000 government fine for filming video with an unmanned aircraft in 2011 has settled his case for $1,100 without admitting guilt, Bloomberg reported Thursday. Raphael Pirker, a Swiss citizen, flew a drone over the University of Virginia in 2011 to make a promotional video. In court, he challenged the FAA’s authority to wield enforcement powers over drone flights. The FAA has yet to come out with a proposal to regulate commercial drone operations, even though the agency said it would have one by the end of 2014.

“We are pleased that the case ignited an important international conversation about the civilian use of drones, the appropriate level of governmental regulation concerning this new technology, and even spurred the regulators to open new paths to the approval of certain commercial drone operations,”Brendan Schulman, Pirker’s lawyer, told Bloomberg. The settlement comes after three years of legal sparring.A judge last March ruled in Pirker’s favor, saying the FAA lacked enforcement power over small drones. The NTSB overturned that ruling in November after finding U.S. aviation regulations did apply to Pirker’s drone flight.