Singer vs. Newton: Drone Pilot Fights Against City Ordinance

By John Phelan (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 ]

Oral arguments will happen immediately within the case of Singer vs. Newton, MA; the primary problem of an area drone legislation to hit the courts in Massachusetts.

Dr. Michael Singer is a health care provider and drone pilot within the rich Boston suburb of Newton.  He is representing himself in a case difficult the drone ordinance that the town enacted final December, one of the vital restrictive native ordinances handed up to now.

According to the ordinance, “pilotless aircraft” are actually topic to regulation below Newton’s “Civil Fines and Miscellaneous Offenses,” an extended listing of minor points beforehand restricted to issues like smoking, snow removing and too-noisy leaf blowers.  But the drone regulation is way from minor: amongst quite a few different factors that restate a few of the FAA laws, it requires that every one operators register individually with the town for a $10 payment, and states that every one flight over non-public property is prohibited at an altitude of below 400′ with out the specific permission of the proprietor.  The latter provision successfully restricts any flight over non-public property, as FAA laws don’t permit for flight over 400′ with no waiver.  In addition, flight will not be allowed in public parks and areas with no prior allow, filed by paper by means of the Parks and Recreation Department.

Under the ordinance, many industrial functions in addition to leisure flight can be prohibited in Newton.

Singer has obtained steering from drone pilots and laws consultants, who contributed to his argument. Singer claims that the regulation is in direct battle with FAA preemption, which grants the FAA  jurisdiction over navigable airspace; and that the ordinance violates his rights of transit and navigation below federal and state legal guidelines.

In an in depth doc, Singer and his skilled witnesses try to elucidate why the ordinance creates an issue – however the metropolis’s response if frustratingly dense.  Newton’s responses make it abundantly clear that the ordinance was handed with out analysis into present legislation.  “The City lacks sufficient knowledge or information to admit or deny the allegations contained in paragraph… and therefore denies them and calls on Plaintiff to prove the same,” is intoned with monotonous frequency even over easy problems with abundantly documented Part 107 legislation.   Newton’s attorneys deny that the town designed the ordinance as regards to a 400′ altitude restrict with the intention to solely restrict flight over non-public property – which, if true, signifies a surprising ignorance of present federal laws.

The case has assumed significance to the drone trade after Senator Dianne Feinstein’s introduction of the Drone Federalism Act, which might give states sweeping powers to control drones.  The case additionally serves to level out the hazard of native legal guidelines to a rising trade: usually fashioned with little or no analysis by people solely unfamiliar with drone functions, drone laws might have very important unintended penalties for communities.  The first of which can be costly lawsuits.


Miriam McNabb is the CEO of JobForDrones, an expert drone providers market, and a fascinated observer of the rising drone trade and the regulatory setting for drones. She writes for DRONELIFE on present information, monetary traits, and FAA laws. Miriam has a level from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of expertise in excessive tech gross sales and advertising and marketing for brand spanking new applied sciences.
Email Miriam

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