Pirker, FAA Settle Reckless Operation of UAV Case for $1,100
Raphael Pirker and the Federal Aviation Administration agreed to settle the 2013 case in which the FAA proposed to assess a $10,000 civil penalty to Pirker for operating a remotely piloted aircraft in a careless or reckless manner over the University of Virginia campus.
Pirker agreed to pay the FAA $1,100 to avoid the expense of litigation.
According to the settlement agreement, “Neither respondent’s execution of this settlement nor payment of the settlement proceeds constitutes respondent’s admission of any of the facts or regulatory violations alleged in the FAA’s June 27, 2013, order of assessment or the amended order of assessment.”
Pirker’s company, Team BlackSheep, released a statement calling the settlement “favorable,” and discusses the impact the case had on the current perception of drones.
“We are pleased that the case ignited an important international conversation about the civilian use of drones, the appropriate level of governmental regulation concerning this new technology and even spurred the regulators to open new paths to the approval of certain commercial drone operations,” reads the company statement.
Two months after the original March 2014 decision dismissing the case on the grounds that model aircraft were not regulated, the FAA announced the Section 333 exemption process for companies to gain approval to operate unmanned aircraft commercially.
As part of the agreement, Pirker’s lawyer was able to get several incorrect allegations removed from the amended order of assessment.
“The video of the flight has been widely misinterpreted by the FAA and others,” reads the statement. “The flight route was carefully mapped in advance and approved by university personnel. An email was circulated by the university advising those on campus of the planned flight.”
The defense goes on and calls the changes to the order of assessment an attempt “to straighten the record as best we could in the absence of a hearing.”
Team BlackSheep closed the statement with a friendly reminder.
“We strongly encourage all drone pilots to become fully familiar with their equipment, develop their skills over time and to take measures to ensure safety in their operating environment.”
The full statement, settlement agreement and amended order of assessment can be found here.
Information from AUVSI.