Texas EquuSearch will resume flying drones during their search-and-recovery missions after a federal appeals court ruled Friday that a government “cease and desist” order banning their use wasn’t valid.
In February, a Federal Aviation Administration official sent the volunteer group an email, saying its use of unmanned aircraft to search for missing people was illegal.
“He was overstepping his boundaries,” EquuSearch founder Tim Miller said Friday after the Washington, D.C.-based appellate court issued its ruling.
Texas EquuSearch stopped using drones after receiving the government’s email, then filed a lawsuit against the agency.
Although the court’s decision dismissed the lawsuit, it achieved the desired results of confirming that Texas EquuSearch could continue using drones, said Brendan Schulman, who represented Texas EquuSearch in the case.
“The FAA’s instructions to stop using (drones) were not legally binding. They were just advisory in nature,” Schulman said.
See here for the background. As I said at the time, I could see no good reason why Texas EquuSearch should be barred from using drones in its search-and-rescue missions. There should certainly be some regulation of drone use, but any sensible set of rules should allow for this kind of use. (Fun question to ask at your next candidate forum: Which should be regulated more tightly, guns or drones?) I’m glad to see them get this ruling.