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Ruling Brings Drones Under FAA Regulation, Could Lead To Sweeping Bans

Ruling Brings Drones Under FAA Regulation, Could Lead To Sweeping Bans
[Photo: Flickr user Doctor Popular]

A decision handed down by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) today may have many drone aficionados poised to fly off the handle.

The NTSB sided with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Tuesday in a ruling that declared small, unmanned aircrafts and drones are subject to FAA regulation. Because FAA rules prohibit the careless or reckless operation of an aircraft, the agency now has the power to implement a blanket ban on unmanned devices if it so chooses–although paradoxically, that kind of flat-footed response is made unlikely by drones’ increasing popularity.

More probably, the FAA will want to avoid mass public outrage and focus any crackdown on drones operating near airports, (an increasingly common and vexing phenomenon) and in other places where drones could be dangerous, such as fireworks shows, densely populated urban areas, and at high altitudes where planes and helicopters fly.

“It’s a huge win for the FAA, and signals it’s not going to be the Wild West for drones, but a careful, orderly, safe introduction of unmanned aircraft systems into the national airspace system,” Kenneth Quinn, a former FAA general counsel, told NBC News.PW