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FAA Cries Foul Over Nationals Drone Use For Aerial Spring Training Photos

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McCorkel Meghan 370x278 (2) Meghan McCorkell
Meghan McCorkell joined the Eyewitness News team in July 2011 as a...
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WASHINGTON (WJZ)—The FAA is crying foul at a Major League Baseball team. The Washington Nationals used a drone to take pictures of the team during spring training. Problem is they didn’t get permission. And commercial drone use is banned.

Meghan McCorkell has more on the controversy.

Nationals team photographers say they used a camera attached to a remote-controlled drone to get aerial images of the team but admit they did not consult the FAA.

Home runs are not the only thing flying over the field during Washington Nationals spring training.

The team used a small four-rotor drone to soar high above the players to capture promotional images of the team in practice.

“Everybody’s always looking for a new way, a new opportunity to get the different angle, right?” said Nationals manager Matt Williams.

But now the team is in hot water for not consulting the FAA before taking flight.

“We didn’t get it cleared, but we don’t get our pop flies cleared either and those go higher than this thing did,” a team official told the Associated Press.

The FAA bans the use of commercial drones as the agency works on regulations for them.

“The technology has really outpaced the regulatory aspects,” said Michael Toscano, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

He says the FAA must err on the side of safety.

“What happens if for some reason it went out of control and came down and hit Zimmerman? We’d be in a world of hurt,” Toscano said.

The University of Maryland is currently conducting research to help the FAA come up with certification standards and regulations for drones.

“Working on technology-related reliability, safety and sense and avoid technology,” said Dr. Darryl Pines, University of Maryland School of Engineering.

So that commercial drones can be used without anyone getting hurt.

Congress has asked the FAA to develop initial regulations for operation of commercial drones by 2015.

The maximum penalty for operating a commercial drone is $10,000.

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