San Diego’s Undercover Drone Companies Fight the Feds

San Diego’s Undercover Drone Companies Fight the Feds

A business owner in your neighborhood may be battling the FAA over his moneymaking device.

At least 15 San Diego area companies use drones to take photos or video footage or help develop the small unmanned systems that do so. You might not know this, but the FAA does. The companies have received formal nasty grams or phone calls from the federal aviation officials in recent years based on their work.

That’s because the FAA effectively banned commercial drone flights in 2007. But now the FAA’s policy is under fire and the San Diego companies are fighting back.

The FAA’s ban is an informal dictum against commercial drone use, not a law. In 2012, the agency fined aerial photographer Raphael Pirker $10,000 for flying a drone near the University of Virginia. Pirker refused to accept that punishment and appealed to the National Transportation Safety Board. An administrative law judge recently agreed with Pirker, ruling that the FAA can’t ban commercial drone flights without a formal law doing so.

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