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Judge Overrules FAA Rules on UVA Drone Case - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Judge Overrules FAA Rules on UVA Drone Case

Posted: Updated: Mar 08, 2014 04:31 PM

A judge has overturned a Federal Aviation Administration fine leveled against someone who flew a photography drone over the University of Virginia.

The decision may undercut all of the new rules the FAA is trying to enforce about commercial drones in American airspace.

In October 2011, Raphael Pirker flew a $130 drone and camera around UVA, shooting video for an advertisement about the University of Virginia Medical Center. That video earned him a $10,000 fine from the FAA.

The FAA accused Pirker of illegally operating a commercial drone - for profit - without authorization.

The video shows a variety of aerial shots around the UVA Medical Center. The FAA says Pirker operated the drone carelessly and was a risk both to property and people on the ground.

But this week an appeals court judge ruled on Pirker's behalf - dismissing the fine, saying the FAA overreached it's authority by applying regulations for regular planes aircraft to model aircraft.

This is the first ruling of its kind.

As recently as last week, the FAA publicized its restrictions on the commercial use of drones, saying there are no shades of gray in the law. Now, a judge disagrees.

The FAA is appealing the ruling.  The full NTSB board will now hear the case.

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