Judge Overturns City Drone Ordinance

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Judge Overturns City Drone OrdinanceOmer Messinger/Getty Images

According to a recent report found on Forbes, the City of Newton, Massachusetts, like many state and local governments, though it could regulate drone flights in the airspace over its city limits. It passed a law this past December that sought to ban unmanned aircraft flights below 400 feet, to ban flights over private and public property without the landowner’s permission, and to require local registration of drones. A federal judge in Massachusetts ruled today that the City of Newton was wrong: It does not have that authority because it is pre-empted by the federal government.

The case was brought by Michael Singer, a physician, and inventor who lives in Newton and is a Continue reading about the drone ordiance. FAA-certified drone pilot. He owns and operates a number of small drones. Dr. Singer challenged four sections of the city’s ordinance: one that required local registration of unmanned aircraft and three that regulated flight operations, including the altitude and distance drones could fly.

He asserted in the lawsuit, in which he represented himself, that the city’s ordinance was pre-empted by federal law “because it attempts to regulate an almost exclusively federal area of law.” The federal district judge reviewing the case, William G. Young, agreed. In his decision, Judge Young states, “Congress has given the FAA the responsibility of regulating the use of airspace for aircraft navigation and to protect individuals and property on the ground and has specifically directed the FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace.” [Full disclosure: I served as an expert for Dr. Singer in this case.] Continue reading about this ruling. 


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