NTSB Rules FAA Can Regulate Drones

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has ruled that drones are aircraft and within the scope of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to regulate.

The case involved a challenge to the FAA’s authority to regulate drone activity. An administrative law judge concluded the FAA could not penalize a drone operator for reckless flying, and the FAA appealed to the NTSB.

At present, the FAA is not allowing drones to be used commercially. That includes the commercial use of drones to gather news footage at emergency incidents. The non-commercial use of drones by hobbyists and private individuals is permitted by the FAA within regulations established by the FAA for unmanned “model” aircraft.

Once the FAA acts to allow the commercial use of drones, fire and EMS personnel can expect to see them operating regularly at emergency scenes. Get ready for that reality!!!!!

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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