FAA ‘looking into’ $10K fine for drone recording of tornado disaster area

As reported on RT.com

The Federal Aviation Administration, already facing criticism from private drone operators, has launched an investigation into drone use in the aftermath of the devastating tornadoes that swept across the southeastern United States.

Tornado damage

RT.com screenshot from the video uploaded on YouTube by Brian Emfinger

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Tuesday that the FAA has initiated a probe into the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to gather aerial footage of the terrible scene in Arkansas, where at least 14 people died over the past few days due to the tornados. One of the worst hit areas was Mayflower, Arkansas, located just 40 minutes away from the state capital of Little Rock, where over a dozen people died.

Storm chaser and videographer Brian Eminger sought to help the public understand just how bad the disaster was by sending a drone equipped with a video camera over Mayflower just moments after the storms had passed.

A short video he posted on YouTube, which attracted nearly two million views within just 48 hours, showed emergency crews sifting through rubble where homes and buildings once stood. The images proved that the small Arkansas town was unrecognizable compared to just hours before, with vehicles and large piles of lumber strewn across the highway and elsewhere.

Eminger’s drone measures approximately 18 inches wide with small propellers that are about eight inches long, he told the Gazette. He used it in the past to help a local TV station obtain footage of a hotel fire in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but could now face a $10,000 fine because of strict FAA guidelines…

When questioned Monday on whether the FAA had seen Eminger’s video, FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford told the Gazette that “We are looking into it.”

Click the link below to read the complete article on RT.com

FAA ‘looking into’ $10K fine for drone recording of tornado disaster area

Rich Hanson
AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs



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4 Responses to FAA ‘looking into’ $10K fine for drone recording of tornado disaster area

    • John, At the time of the report, the FAA only stated that it was looking into the issue. There was no indication of a perceived violation. However, the headline of the article posted on RT.com would lead you to believe that an assessment relating to a violation was being contemplated. We have not heard further in regards to the FAA’s findings.

      Rich Hanson
      AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs

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  1. I can’t believe the FAA didn’t think this was going to come up. I’ve worked for the Military for 30 years. “We’ll look into it,” means they’re clueless about their own policy.

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