Texas-based EquuSearch, a non-profit organization that provides remote drone assistance for search and rescue ‘missions’ to families and law enforcement agencies, filed a lawsuit on Monday against the FAA demanding permission to use drones in their operations.
In February, EquuSearch was issued an order by the FAA to ground all the company’s UAVs. This left many people in a state of shock and awe, including Liberty County, Texas Sheriff Capt. Ken DeFoor who said at the time, “I cannot understand the controversy going on about the use of drone aircraft for searching for lost children, dementia victims and the victims of foul play, when the FAA has no problem with people flying drones for sport. To me, it’s illogical and it makes no sense”.
The FAA grounding not only puts lives in potential jeopardy, but also brings the development of drone technology for these purposes to a grinding halt. That is why on Monday, April 21st, the volunteer group filed a lawsuit against the FAA.
Last month, EquuSearch asked the FAA to reevaluate their position on labeling them as a ‘commercial’ drone group, and lifting the ban on drone flights by the group, to which the FAA has yet to respond.
This week’s filing comes on the heels of the Raphael Pirker case in March in which a judge stated the FAA’s ban on any commercial use of drones is not binding due to the fact that flight officials had not given the public the chance to comment on the agency’s self-appointed rules.
Even though the FAA stated EquuSearch could contract with government agencies and apply for a ‘Certificate of Authorization’ on a case-by-case basis -which, according to the FAA, could be as quickly as a couple of hours- no progress has been made. EquuSearch’s lawyer Brendan Schulman, (who also defended Mr. Pirker) wrote in the filing, “There is no legal basis for the FAA to prohibit the operation of model aircraft for volunteer search-and-rescue activities,” and Tim Miller, the founder of EquuSearch said, “We’ll fight as long as I have to fight.”
You can read the complete filing below.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com