Texas EquuSearch Sues FAA in Federal Court Challenge Agency’s Order to Stop Using Drones in Searching for Missing Persons
Since when is a non-profit considered commercial use?
Texas Equusearch has sued the Federal Aviation Administration in federal court to challenge the FAA’s order to stop using unmanned drones in the search for missing persons. Texas Equusearch, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has been tirelessly been searching for missing persons for years and been using unmanned planes, drones, if you will since 2006. So once again we have federal government interference in the search for missing loved ones. I am sure this is what our Founding Father’s had in mind. Sorry, but I happen to think there is a huge difference between a non-profit organization searching for missing persons as compared to Amazon delivering packages.
A Texas group sued the Federal Aviation Administration in federal court to challenge the agency’s order to stop using drones in the group’s searches for missing people, the latest round in an intensifying battle over regulation of the sector.
Search-and-rescue organization Texas EquuSearch, which has used unmanned aircraft to help search for missing people since 2006, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to set aside the FAA’s order to halt its use of drones. The group argued in a five-page petition filed on Monday that the FAA’s order has no legal basis and “is unlawful, arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and not otherwise in accordance with law.”
The FAA said it is reviewing the suit. The agency suggested in an email that Texas EquuSearch could work with public entities that hold FAA authorizations to use drones, such as some police departments, and obtain emergency authorizations to conduct its searches.
The FAA has effectively banned the commercial use of unmanned aircraft in the continental U.S. It says the limit is needed to protect air safety, at least until the agency sets full rules for the devices—now expected by late 2015 at the earliest.
Is the federal government more concerned with its overreaching authority or helping the families of missing loved ones?
Tim Miller, founder and director of EquuSearch, said the Feb. 21 Federal Aviation Administration order prohibiting the operation of four drones has meant the nonprofit organization has not used them in three active searches for missing people in Katy, Louisiana and Oklahoma.
Miller said the 4-foot-long drones have led to the discovery of 11 missing individuals and allow searchers to view large stretches of wooded areas, fenced property and bodies of water.
“I was hoping we’d get a response from them that was more positive and we didn’t have to go to this extreme,” Miller said of the FAA. “It’s time-consuming for us, and God only knows what the outcome is going to be.”
Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney representing Texas EquuSearch, said the lawsuit seeks to confirm the rights of nonprofits to use civilian drone technology for the nation’s benefit.