D.C. Circuit Rejects Challenge to FAA's Drone Policy as Premature


On Friday, the D.C. Circuit granted the FAA's motion to dismiss a petition for review involving its enforcement policy on unmanned aerial systems, also referred to as drones. The petition was filed by Texas Equusearch, a not-for-profit organization who conducts search and rescue operations. Specifically, the petition sought to challenge the FAA's email communications directing the company to cease all use of radio-control model aircraft in connection with their search-and-rescue efforts. Texas Equusearch, argued that the email "declares in no uncertain terms that such operations are 'illegal' and demands that [Texas Equusearch] 'stop immediately'" 

In a per curium opinion, the court said that the challenged email communication from the FAA did not represent the consummation of the agency's decisionmaking process, nor did it give rise to any legal consequences. Noting that the email was not a "formal cease-and-desist letter representing the agency's final conclusion…that an entity has violated the law," the D.C. Circuit said it lacked authority to review the claim.  The decision leaves the door open to challenges of formal cease-and-desist letters, which the court has previously found sufficient to constitute final agency action. 

Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team v. Federal Aviation Administration, Case No. 14-1061 (D.C. Cir.)


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Holland & Knight LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:


Holland & Knight LLP on:

Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:

Sign up to create your digest using LinkedIn*

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.

Already signed up? Log in here

*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.