All volunteer search and rescue team fights FAA, wins

Posted Jul 19, 2014 by Greta McClain
A Texas volunteer based non-profit search and rescue organization can resume its operations after winning its court battle against the Federal Aviation Administration.
An Aladin UAV drone
An Aladin UAV drone
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered Texas EquuSearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team to cease operations in February of this year. The team employs five-pound styrofoam model aircraft to conduct aerial searches for lost and missing persons at no charge. It has reportedly found more than 300 persons alive in some 42 states and eight countries.
The FAA was not impressed with the organization's efforts or results however, and considered the model aircraft to be drones. Court documents state the FAA advised EquuSearch that the teams operations were “illegal” and demanded that they “stop immediately". However, the FAA never issued a formal cease and desist order, instead sending an email stating it was their opinion that the EquuSearch operations where "illegal".
The organization requested that the FAA suspend the "order" for 30 days and conduct a review of the case, however the FAA refused. As a result EquuSearch filled a lawsuit with the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In the suit, Brendan Schulman, attorney for EquuSearch, states the FAA has never issued a regulation concerning model aircraft operation other than when it issued voluntary guidelines for the operation of model aircraft in June 9, 1981. Those guidelines state:
"This advisory circular outlines, and encourages voluntary compliance with, safety standards for model aircraft operators. Compliance with the following standards will help reduce the potential for that hazard and create a good neighbor environment
with affected communities and airspace users."
On Friday the court agreed with EquuSearch, ordering the motion to dismiss be granted and saying:
" not a formal cease-and-desist letter representing the agency’ s final conclusion after following the procedures set out in 14 CRF pt. 13".
According to the EquuSearch website, the organization will resume operations, stating:
”Texas EquuSearch is free to resume its humanitarian use of drones,”
Sometimes you can fight city hall, or the Federal government, and win.