A warning against the use of drones issued by the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) to a Texas search team was ruled by a court judge as “not legally binding” sources in Texas report. A group in Texas using unmanned remote operated aerial vehicles, often referred to as drones, was warned in an email message from the FAA not to use them. However, after the ruling by the court judge, the group will now continue to use drone searches in Texas, sources report.
Texas-based Texas EquuSearch sued the FAA in an attempt to overturn an order sent by the agency in February. The order was delivered by email and it outlined the FAA’s warning, prohibiting the non-profit organization EquuSearch from using drones to conduct searches in the state.
The lawsuit was ultimately dismissed in federal court, but the ruling by the three-panel judge was considered to be a victory because it allowed for continued drone use by the group to locate missing people. Brendan Schulman is the attorney that represented Texas EquuSearch. The court ruled that the email warning was not a binding order.
The appeal court’s reasoning was that the email from the FAA was not binding because it did not represent the completion of the agency’s policy on drone use in the United States (U.S.). Those rules are expected to be made complete by next year. The FAA warning against the use of drones to the Texas search team was not only ruled not legally binding but also devoid of consequence to the group.
The ruling by the federal appeals court might not have had the intended effect of making the FAA policy null, but it did succeed in easing the Texas group back into drone use in searching for missing people. The ruling was a two page document drafted by the court judge panel.
Commercial drone use is a hot topic as well and companies like Amazon want to put the gadgets to use for profit. Others want to have fun with them or use them for other inventive purposes. The FAA has stated that the unmanned flying devices are prohibited for commercial use, but filmmakers and others want that to change so they can make a buck from the use of drones in their industries. Congress is considering new laws that would allow commercial drone use for smaller crafts, around 55 pounds or less.
The volunteer group in Texas is reportedly funded through private donations. Texas EquuSearch said they have located hundreds of missing people and have helped successfully reunite those people with their friends, family and other loved ones.
Some of the search efforts involving drones they have been involved in were high profile searches. One of those searches was notably the mission to find Natalee Holloway, the U.S. teen who went missing in 2005 in Aruba. Tim Miller is the Texas group’s founder. They are relieved that the FAA warning against the use of drones to their non-profit Texas search team was ruled not legally binding so they can continue searches.
By Rob Lawson
Image Source: WikiMedia Commons