FAA releases commercial drone cease and desist letters

The FAA released a series of documents to a man named Patrick McKay in response to his FOIA request for the cease and desist letters that were sent to commercial drone operators.

This site, as well as others including MuckRock.com, has requested the same documentation, and the FAA is more than 7 months overdue in responding to those requests.

It’s unclear why the FAA responding to this particular request at this time.

The documents were posted by the recipient at DIYdrones.com.

“The FAA has finally provided the first set of documents in response to a FOIA request I filed back in April 2013, requesting copies ‘of all records related to investigations and enforcement actions related to alleged violations of regulations, rules, policies, or advisory circulars by operators of unmanned aerial systems,’ McKay wrote. “After months of delays, excuses, and requesting extensions, they have provided copies of 17 cease and desist letters sent by various FAA regional offices to UAS operators in 2012 and 2013.”

McKay continues with some more impressions. Here are 5 things McKay said about the letters.

  1. Though the cease and desist letters were sent out by different regional offices of the FAA, they all follow the same basic structure and they are all clearly working off the same form letter.
  2. The FAA seems to be exclusively targeting UAS operators who are using drones for commercial aerial photography (or in the cases of the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska, universities that wish to teach people to use drones for aerial photography). Other commercial uses of unmanned aircraft, including agriculture, commercial YouTube channels, sponsored competitions, etc. do not appear to be targeted.
  3. Most of the letters were sent to individuals/companies that had either been the subject of recent media coverage highlighting their use of RC aircraft for commercial aerial photography, or who were advertising such services on the web.
  4. The FAA routinely misrepresents the law regarding unmanned aircraft in its cease and desist letters.
  5. In all of the provided letters, the FAA actively misrepresents that status of the law regarding both commercial and hobbyist model aircraft, as well as the legal effect of key documents and legislation.
Stay with The Drone Girl throughout the week for more analysis of the letters. For now, you can download and view them here.

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