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The FAA Stakes Out Its Turf in the Drone Wars

Well before Amazon.com introduced the idea of commercial drone deliveries to the public imagination, U.S. regulators were telling people flying these unmanned devices to ground their gadgets and to file for a permit.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has issued a dozen orders to halt the operation of what are technically called unmanned aircraft systems (or UAS) for commercial pursuits, including those performed by aerial photographers, videographers, and journalism schools. And while no one disputes the FAA’s role in regulating the U.S. national airspace, some legal experts question whether the agency has authority over the use of private commercial drones that operate below 400 feet and away from airports.