Flying Robots, Rejoice! Judge Lifts U.S. Ban On Small Drones

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WASHINGTON, March 7 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge has thrown out a fine by the Federal Aviation Administration against the operator of a small commercial drone, a decision that could open up the nation’s skies to more unmanned-aircraft flights.

The case involved a $10,000 fine levied by the FAA against Raphael Pirker for operating a drone while filming a commercial in 2011 for the University of Virginia, a violation of the agency’s ban on the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

Administrative law judge Patrick Geraghty dismissed the fine on Thursday and ruled that the agency’s prohibition was not enforceable because it was based on a policy statement outside of the formal rule-making process.

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