FAA Enforcement and Civil Penalty Actions for Drone Operators

Don’t forget that an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or “drone” is an aircraft being operated within the National Airspace System (“NAS”). As such, the Federal Aviation Administration has the power to impose significant civil penalties upon pilots that operate their drone in an unsafe manner. Furthermore, with the emergence of Part 107, the FAA could even potentially suspend or revoke your certificate to commercially fly your drone. Beyond that, the FAA has even shown that they are capable of revoking a pilot’s manned aircraft certificates for the improper operation of a drone within the NAS.

The procedure and appellate process is identical for drone operators than it is for manned aircraft certificate holders. As any manned aircraft certificate holder which has faced an enforcement action can attest, scrutiny by the FAA is something to be avoided. Just remember that any violation of a Federal Aviation Regulation with a drone could potentially expose you and your company to regulatory liability. History has shown that the FAA is willing to prosecute operators when there is a loss of line of sight visibility, airspace violations, unauthorized commercial operations by recreational pilots, and careless and reckless operations, to name a few instances.

FAA and NTSB records indicate that when a drone operator was represented by an attorney, rather than pro se, there was a reduction in the penalty amount from the initial proposed civil penalty. In that, this shows that when a proposed civil penalty is not overturned on its merits, hiring a drone lawyer can potentially reduce the financial liability owed by you to the FAA. Beyond that, a drone attorney can help point out your pitfalls and potential liabilities, so that you do not end up on the FAA’s radar again in the future!

If you or your drone company has received a letter of investigation, a noticed of proposed certificate action and/or civil penalty, do not wait…call your drone attorney at The Ison Law Firm!

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