Texas EquuSearch petitions the court to reverse FAA’s ban on volunteer UAS Search & Rescue operations

In a letter to FAA Acting Chief Council Marc L. Warren, Texas EquuSearch (TES) of Dickinson, TX requested the agency to reverse its directive ordering the organization to cease its use of radio-controlled unmanned aircraft in their volunteer search & rescue operations.

(See the update below… April 21, In the absence of action by the FAA, TES has now petitioned the US Court of Appeals to reverse the FAA’s ban on volunteer UAS Search & Rescue operations.)

On February 21, 2014, Gene Robinson, a sUAS operator for TES, received a written directive to “stop immediately” as his volunteer use of a radio-controlled unmanned aircraft without specific authorization (COA) was deemed to be an “illegal operation”.

Gene Robinson

Texas EquuSearch has retained the Manhattan firm of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis, & Frankel, LLP and has taken steps to begin a legal process to secure its right to use model aircraft (sUAS) in its humanitarian search and rescue activities.

Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery is a non-profit organization founded by Tim Miller, a resident of Texas whose daughter Laura was tragically abducted and murdered in 1984. Mr. Miller has since devoted his life to assisting families whose loved ones have gone missing, by organizing and directing volunteer searchers who, in coordination with local and federal officials, thoroughly search relevant land areas using a variety of volunteers, including horseback riders, boaters, divers, and field walkers, using any equipment and technology available that may effectively assist in the search (such as side-scan sonar and ATVs).

Since its founding, Texas EquuSearch has been involved in over 1,350 searches in 42 states and eightforeign countries, and has found over 300 missing people alive. In other less fortunate cases, the search has recovered remains, helping families to end the agony of not knowing their loved one’s fate, permitting closure, and enabling the human dignity of a funeral. When the disappearance is the result of a crime, early discovery of the victim’s remains benefits the country’s justice system by preventing deterioration of forensic evidence.

Read the article in the Houston Chronicle

Feds order EquuSearch to stop using drones in search of crime victims

Read the report by Jason Koebler on Motherboard

‘They’re Playing God’: The Federal Drone Ban Is Thwarting Rescue Missions

Click the links below to read the case documents…
TES Letter to FAA Acting Chief Council Marc L. Warren
TES-FAA Letter Exhibits
TES Press Release

Rich Hanson
AMA Government and Regulatory Affairs

One comment

  1. Update, April 21… Attorney Brendan Schulman on behalf of the Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Rescue Team filed a Petition for Review with the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requesting the court review the FAA’s order to “cease all use of radio-control model aircraft in connection with their volunteer, unpaid search-and-rescue efforts on behalf of the families of missing persons”. The filing further requests the court set aside the order as it is “unlawful, arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and not otherwise in accordance with law”.

    Click the link below to read the court filing…

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