Commercial drones legal for now as photographer evades a US$10k fine

7 Mar 2014

Commercial drone flying has been made temporarily legal in the US after a photographer evaded a potential US$10,000 fine from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

Drone photographer Raphael Pirker was slapped with the fine in 2012 after flying his Zephyr II drone over the University of Virginia and selling photos and videos to the university.

He was accused of a number of violations, including flying the aircraft in a dangerous manner.

However, Pirker and his attorney filed a motion with the National Transportation Safety Board questioning the FAA’s authority to legally regulate drone technology.

Yesterday, in a ruling, the National Transportation Safety Board granted their request to quash the fine.

The decision was made on the basis that the FAA currently has no authority to regulate drones, especially since the 2007 policy it had based its decisions on drones isn’t binding.

However, this does not mean new regulations won’t soon be on the cards, as tech giants, such as UPC and Amazon, look at drone technology as an efficient means of delivering goods through projects, such as Amazon’s Prime Air.

How Amazon sees the future of drones:


And Netflix’s comical take on the future of drones in business:


Commercial drone image at top via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years