Texas Search Group Says It Will Resume Drone Use

(July 18, 2014) Texas EquuSearch, which grounded its fleet of four unmanned search aircraft earlier this year, said Friday it will resume using the drones in searches for missing people after an appeals court said it can’t review the group’s challenge to the ban because final rules on drone use haven’t been issued.

Texas EquuSearch sued the Federal Aviation Administration, seeking to overturn what the group described as an order sent in February by email that barred the nonprofit organization from using drones.

The organization grounded its drone fleet while preparing a legal challenge to the order.

On Friday a three-judge panel for a federal appeals court Washington, D.C., dismissed the lawsuit, saying that it can't review the case because the email didn't represent the FAA's final conclusion on the use of drones.

Final rules on drone use are expected next year.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the agency would issue a statement on the ruling later Friday.

Texas EquuSearch argues that its drones are not used for commercial purposes and should not be subject to the restrictions.