March 19, 2014

ONE SMALL STEP FOR A MAN, one giant leap for Dronekind.

Last week, Major League Baseball fined the Boston Red Sox for not putting enough of its regular roster on the field for a spring training game. The Washington Nationals now face a fine of a different sort, for using a different sort of player during spring training—the team may face a penalty from the Federal Aviation Administration for using an unmanned aircraft to take promotional photos during a team practice.

When contacted by an Associated Press reporter regarding whether the team got FAA approval for use of the small drone, a team spokesperson said, “No, we didn’t get it cleared, but we don’t get our pop flies cleared either, and those go higher than this thing did.” But the team stopped flying the drone the next day—and team officials wouldn’t comment further.

Ars attempted to reach Kyle Brostowitz, the Nationals’ coordinator for baseball communications, but he did not reply to our requests for comment. A spokesperson for the FAA did not respond to inquiries regarding the Nationals or whether the FAA had contacted the team. But the FAA will soon be facing many more of these cases in the wake of a recent administrative court decision, in part thanks to the agency’s failure to issue a new set of rules on commercial drone use.

Stay tuned.