NTSB rules all drones can be grounded by FAA

If you've got a drone, the FAA might soon be able to ground you. According the the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Federal Aviation Administration's existing rules governing "aircraft" can apply to drones and remote controlled aircraft. In deciding the case, the NTSB's board said the current FAA definitions "draw no distinction between whether a device is manned or unmanned". The board also said "we acknowledge the definitions are as broad as they are clear, but they are clear nonetheless."

The broad scope of the existing rules are troubling for drone enthusiasts. An "aircraft" flown under 500 feet is considered dangerous, which is typically a safe ceiling for consumer drone flight. As pointed out by Motherboard, the FAA's model aircraft rule suggest flight over 400 feet is unsafe.

If you're found to be flying a drone, these blanket laws could earn you a $10,000 fine, and possibly jail time.

FAA officials probably won't roll up on you in an open field when you're flying a drone for fun, but they are likely going to use these blanket rules to go after those who fly them at airplanes, or inside a fireworks display. Of course, the reason for this ruling at all surrounds a drone pilot who was paid for his work, something the FAA considers illegal.

In the original case, a judge ruled the drone being flown wasn't an "aircraft" by FAA definitions, and as such gave them no governance. The NTSB's board, in reviewing the case, has decided otherwise.

Consumers should be concerned by the wide net the NTSB and FAA are casting, here. To wit, those $20 helicopters you pick up at the local big-box retailer are subject to these rules. So is a paper airplane, technically speaking.

The FAA is still hashing out their drone guidelines to address companies like Amazon and Google, who have their own drone programs, so we should all hope for some clarity on this situation soon.

Source: Motherboard