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  • Charl Jooste

Drone pilot defeats the City of Newton Massachusetts

Photo: Sebastian Pichler

Drones are constantly pushing the boundaries and breaking new ground, not only in UAV flight, technology and commercial application but also in the legal and regulatory space. The rapid growth in the popularity and use of drones for both recreational and commercial use has left regulatory bodies and lawmakers scrambling to control and restrict their use. Many have had a knee-jerk reaction and imposed overly restrictive unnecessary controls.

Everyone agrees, even those heavily invested in the industry, agree that some control is necessary. It simply needs to be fair and logical and not impose unnecessary retractions on the many important benefits on the safe application of the technology.

One person championing this case has had a recent success that could well be a turning point in drone regulation. Harvard Professor Michael Singer successfully challenged the Boston City of Newton, Massachusetts in a recent court action. This victory could have widespread implications in other parts of the US.

Dr. Singer’s application put forward the case that the propose drone ordinance was a rights violation that was pre-empted by federal law. The restrictive ordinance was passed last December and the Boston doctor has achieved a massive victory for local drone operators.

The regulation and restrictions form part of Newton’s “Civil Fines and Miscellaneous Offenses” which includes such trivial infractions such as the evils of noisy leaf blowers and snow removal. Part of the regulation requires a separate city registration

For drones at $10 and a restriction on flying at under 400 feet over private property without the owner’s permission.

Jonathan Rupprecht , a drone law expert said: “The Singer case is an extremely important decision which struck down a local drone ordinance as being in conflict with federal law.”

This is good news for drone enthusiasts and those involved in the commercial side of the business. We wait to see the response from organizations such as the FAA, AUVSI and AMA as well as other regulatory bodies. Either way, a precedent has been set that can only mean good things for the freedom of drone use. Other states will have to take note of the ruling when considering their own regulations.


#sUASNews #Dronelaws #regulations

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