Albert J. Plawinski, a second-year law student at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, has filed a federal complaint against the Federal Aviation Administration over their refusal to respond to his request for information about drone regulation.
Plawinski has asked a judge to order the FAA to provide him with records pertaining to Certificates of Authority issued under Section 333 exemptions. He submitted the request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on June 5, and the FAA has not responded. “The documents I asked for would give a clearer picture about drone policy and would give an insight into what restrictions the FAA places on commercial drone operators,” Plawinski told the Cook County Record. “The FAA never responded to my FOIA request. Once the statutory deadline approached for the FAA to produce documents, I emailed them and asked for status. I then found out that the FAA received my request but never forwarded it to the proper person. Several more email exchanges revealed that the FAA simply made every excuse possible instead of producing the documents. Frustrated, I filed this lawsuit.”
While the FAA acknowledged his FOIA request for information on June 8 and assigned to a FOIA management specialist, it was apparently reassigned to another agent on the same day; and Plawinski never received the documents.
Plawinski is specializing in drone law; and has two pending publications with co-author Henry H. Perritt, including one titled One Centimeter Over My Back Yard: Where Does Federal Preemption of State Drone Regulation Start? He requested the information in order to help him with his research. “I found that this information is critical to any legal analysis in this field and in tracking FAA policy. After all, citizens in this country are entitled to this information. It all should be publicly available,” he said. Plawinski says that the actual restrictions that the FAA puts on Section 333 Exemption holders are unclear; the requested documents should outline exactly what regulations Exemption holders are subject to.
“It is difficult to make or suggest policy based on missing data,” Plawinski said.
Even after filing the lawsuit, Plawinski has not received a response from the FAA.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
Subscribe to DroneLife here.