Aviation Attorney Accuses FAA of Negligent Misconduct

Curran photo

Michael Curran, Civil Trial and Aviation Attorney, has written a scathing letter to the FAA regarding their lack of regulatory authority of “Model UAVs.” The attached letter accuses the FAA of “negligent misconduct which he says has stunted the UAV industry and caused tremendous losses in development and income across the country.”

The letter also suggests that the FAA is “Exposed to a variety of lawsuits…for negligence and negligent misrepresentations made by FAA Administrators and spokespersons to the American public causing them lost income and other damages”

Michael Curran was kind enough to grant sUAS News some of his time to answer the following three questions:

In a nutshell, what has compelled you to write this letter to the FAA?

First no client has paid me to write this letter.  It is simply a letter/cause that, after much research, providing legal opinions for clients, discussing the FAA’s misinformation and misleading the American public for years concerning Model Aircraft/UAVs, I felt strongly needed to be addressed directly.

I also felt I had a unique background of legal/aviation experience and expertise to write such a letter. I hope that the FAA will at long last listen since they have now been scolded by a Federal NTSB Judge in the Pirker case and must now be receiving pressure to be truthful regarding UAVs from other legal and industry sources.” 

What do you hope to accomplish by writing this letter?

Having been a long time pilot and advocate of safe flying, I wanted to give the FAA a final opportunity in the face of clear facts to honor posted FAA Core Values and set the record straight on the lack of current law/regulation for the use of civilian Model Aircraft/UAVs/Drones. 

If the FAA does not promptly change their course, I think litigation is directly on the horizon.  Over the past several years the FAA has, at least negligently, been misleading the American public. Thousands of citizens and organizations have lost thousands of dollars in potential revenue.  I have had numerous UAV and Model Aircraft friends who have lost significant income when the FAA, in 2007 and thereafter, purported to “ban” commercial use of UAVs.  I am aware of the struggles of good and well-intentioned people trying to use of UAVs for search and rescue being harassed by the FAA, without actual authority.  The opportunity and applications for UAVs are limitless, but people are not going to continue to develop and fly their UAVs under misplaced duress from the FAA.” 

The FAA often ignores letters, FOIAs, etc, do you expect a response?

It is apparent that the FAA has ignored numerous well-intentioned voices over the years. Organizations such as RCAPA, founded in 2004, attempted dialog with the FAA and sat on the advisory panel for the first FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) to develop operational guidelines for the small business UAV operators. RCAPA repeatedly asked to be part of the second ARC but were denied while DoD contractors were invited. Other groups such as Team Blacksheep, Drone Law News and other many other individuals have, for years, attempted dialog and to work with the FAA, most of which seems to have fallen on deaf ears. 

The FAAs long-term dissemination of false and misleading information and alleged regulations has created these problems/issues.  The FAA’s continued seeming lack of willingness to work with these groups to develop guidelines/regulations has further compounded the problems/issues.

I am hopeful FAA Administrators are at long last, ready to listen.”

Curran FAA Letter 03-26-14

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Patrick Egan
Editor in Field, sUAS News Americas Desk | Patrick Egan is the editor of the Americas Desk at sUAS News and host and Executive Producer of the sUAS News Podcast Series, Drone TV and the Small Unmanned Systems Business Exposition. Experience in the field includes assignments with the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command Battle Lab investigating solutions on future warfare research projects. Instructor for LTA (Lighter Than Air) ISR systems deployment teams for an OSD, U.S. Special Operations Command, Special Surveillance Project. Built and operated commercial RPA prior to 2007 FAA policy clarification. On the airspace integration side, he serves as director of special programs for the RCAPA (Remote Control Aerial Photography Association).