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The FAA Is Still Sending Out Fake Cease-and-Desist Letters to Drone Pilots

The agency remains all over the place about what the rules are, and is trying to impose "regulations" it has never actually made.

Image: Flickr/IansBlog

The Federal Aviation Administration is still sending out cease-and-desist orders—the same ones it just argued in court that people should ignore—to people who are operating drone businesses.

In a court filing last month, Jerome Mellody, the FAA's general counsel in a case involving the use of drones by a volunteer search and rescue team, wrote that the rescue team was incorrectly interpreting a cease-and-desist order from the agency as a cease-and-desist order. If that makes absolutely no sense at all to you, you're not alone.

Here's what he wrote:

"As a preliminary matter, [the search and rescue team] incorrectly refers to the February 21, 2014 email from [an FAA official named] Mr. Brunner, an Aviation Safety Inspector in the FAA's Aviation Safety organization, as an FAA order directing [Texas EquuSearch] to cease its operations. Authority to initiate an enforcement action, including issuance of a cease and desist order, is delegated specifically to the FAA's Office of the Chief Counsel … Brunner's informal email to [Texas EquuSearch] is not an order."

Well, the FAA's safety inspectors are still sending out similar letters—on June 10, Jason DesJardins and his wife, owners of the New York-based Horizon Aerial Media Services received the FAA's standard cease-and-desist orders that (incorrectly) state that flying a drone for commercial purposes requires FAA authorization.

The proliferation of drones "has caused the FAA to put into effect some regulatory bounds to ensure the public safety," the letter, from a safety inspector named Michael Baringer, stated. That, of course, is a lie—there are no commercial drone regulations. "I must advise you to cease [flying] until the FAA can be assured of the safety of your operation."

And, while there are no regulations, commercial drones will continue to be legal. DesJardins said he has no plans to stop flying.

"I am almost certain you have questions," the letter concludes. 

And how could you not? The FAA continues to remain all over the place about what the rules are and is trying to impose "regulations" it has never actually made.

DeJardins CD