Law Firms

Kramer Levin forms drone practice group; one client is accused of flying model plane too low

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel sees opportunity in the “uncharted legal territory” surrounding commercial drones.

The issue was in the news earlier this month when Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told 60 Minutes of plans for delivery drones. In a press release, Kramer Levin says it has created an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Practice Group to advise clients in the rapidly growing industry.

The law firm represents Raphael Pirker, who is facing a proposed $10,000 fine by the Federal Aviation Administration for one of his drone video projects, according to the Chicago Tribune (sub. req.), Metropolitan Corporate Counsel and the Palm Beach Post in an article reprinted by the Lebanon Democrat. The FAA claims Pirker flew his drone too low and too close to people while making an aerial video for possible use by the University of Virginia—deemed a banned commercial use by the FAA.

Pirker is represented by Brendan Schulman, special counsel at Kramer Levin. Schulman has filed a motion to dismiss that argues the FAA is basing the fine on an unenforceable policy statement that said commercial drones are banned, he tells Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. Schulman also argues the FAA has no jurisdiction because Pirker was flying the drone low to the ground in airspace that isn’t regulated by the agency.

“The commercialization of small drones will be revolutionary and overwhelmingly beneficial,” Schulman told Metropolitan Corporate Counsel. “The endless list of applications includes photography and cinematography, search-and-rescue, aerial mapping, disaster response, precision agriculture, wildlife monitoring, pipeline inspection, and so on. Tasks that are particularly expensive or dangerous to conduct with manned aircraft, such as crop-dusting, low-altitude cinematography and power line inspection, can be done more safely and cheaply with drone technology.”

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