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Professors Call FAA’s Drone Rules ‘Unreasonable and Unwarranted’

Faculty from over a dozen universities have registered a formal complaint (PDF) with the FAA over the agency's new restrictions on model aircraft and drones. The group of academics, led by Smith University, writes that the FAA's recently published "Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft" expands the definition of aircraft and airspace to a degree bordering on the ridiculous. The group argues that the rule needlessly extends the definition of "navigable airspace" to the space immediately over private property, where it once started some 500 feet in the air.

The rule also establishes what the group calls "unreasonable and unwarranted restrictions" on flying objects. "Under this new paradigm, even common objects such as Frisbees and baseballs could be construed as 'aircraft' that could potentially harm people and property on the ground," reads the letter, which was submitted to the FAA on Friday. The academics are requesting that the agency suspend implementation of the rule, then revise it to conform with precedent and realistic use cases. When asked by NBC News, the FAA explained that it cannot comment until the docket closes on the rule.

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— Devin Coldewey, NBC News