There have been several lawsuits against hobbyist drone flyers, including a recent one in France where an 18-year-old boy from Nancy filmed a video of his hometown using a GoPro camera mounted onto a small drone.
Nans Thomas was eventually fined 400 Euros for violating the DGAC’s sky rules (Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile) and endangering the lives of others, a fairly light sentence if you consider the maximal sentence could have been one year of imprisonment and a 15,000 Euros fine (violating flying safety rules bear a maximal fine of 75,000 euros but this charge was not taken into account).
In the USA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tried to fine an aerial photographer for “reckless flying”, but the court found that the FAA had no authority over small unmanned aircraft when it imposed the first-ever such fine on a drone operator. In fact the FAA has yet to come with dedicated rules for lightweight drones (under 25 kilograms). But in both cases, the general rules that would apply are that recreational drones should stay away from populated areas.
So how are these lawsuits affecting the hobbyist market and what sort of new recommendations Drone manufacturers will put forward to avoid a consumer backlash?
The first promotional AR. Drone Youtube videos posted by French manufacturer Parrot were showing a quadcopter drone remotely piloted via a tablet, hovering over the Parisian cityscape. That makes for an attractive proposition, but wasn’t it misleading? We asked Levy.
Parrot’s Vice President of Corporate Business Development, Yannick Levy.
“The greatest impact that the Nancy case had for the drone industry was a clarification of French law with regards to drones, with numerous media trying to figure out and explain in simple terms what the DGAC regulations meant” said Levy.
“In fact, in its 2012 update of the sky regulations, the DGAC had already anticipated the use of drones for commercial activities, but it was not meant to affect the consumer and hobbyist market when the photos and videos are solely recorded for private purposes”, Levy continued.