Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney is currently being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for illegal drone use, having flown a miniature helicopter to record his wedding. Maloney, who sits on the Aviation subcommittee of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, an agency that oversees the FAA, was aware of the illegality of using a drone to record property or events if it is used for commercial purposes. As the New York Daily News points out, this particular case was indeed commercial in nature, as the videographer was paid for his services.
Via the Wall Street Journal:
The Federal Aviation Administration indicated Wednesday that it is investigating whether a video of a congressman’s wedding last month violated the agency’s ban on drone flights for commercial purposes.
The agency’s carefully worded statement doesn’t mention Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., by name, but said it was looking into “a report of an unmanned aircraft operation in Cold Spring, New York, on June 21 to determine if there was any violation of federal regulations or airspace restrictions.”
Maloney has acknowledged hiring a photographer to produce a video of his wedding using a camera mounted on a small drone. The wedding took place in Cold Spring on June 21. Maloney is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s aviation subcommittee, which oversees the FAA.
Top agency officials have testified extensively before Congress about their concern that commercial drones could collide with manned aircraft or injure people on the ground. Congress has been pressing the FAA to move faster on creating regulations that will allow commercial drones access to U.S. skies. The agency has been working on regulations for about a decade.
During that time, the FAA has been sending out notices to other videographers telling them to stop the illegal drone use or face fines.
Here is footage from Maloney’s wedding via the drone…
In the meantime, the National Republican Congressional Committee is seeking comment from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who was in attendance at the wedding.
Spokesman Ian Prior commented:
“Nancy Pelosi was actually present when Sean Patrick Maloney blatantly disregarded the Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on commercial drone use. Given that the FAA has now launched an investigation into Maloney’s actions, Pelosi needs to explain what, if anything, she did to try and ensure compliance with the FAA’s rules, regulations, and policies.”
Maloney however, gave what in his mind was probably a valid excuse for ignoring his own agency’s regulations, by telling the videographer he “didn’t want to discuss policy on his wedding day.”