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Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney Hires Drone For Wedding Despite FAA Ban

FILE -- A small drone (Credit: Getty Images)

FILE — A small drone (Credit: Getty Images)

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A New York congressman apparently commissioned a video of his wedding last month using a drone even though the FAA bans drone flights for commercial purposes.

A spokeswoman for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) acknowledged the congressman hired a photographer to produce a photo package of his wedding last month that included a video created using a camera mounted on a small drone.

The wedding photographer subcontracted Parker Gyokeres of Propellerheads Aerial Photography of Trenton, N.J. to shoot the video. Gyokeress posted outtakes of the wedding on his company’s website and created a YouTube video.

To add insult to injury, Maloney is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s aviation subcommittee, which oversees the FAA.

The FAA has been sending letters to commercial drone operators across the country — including other videographers and companies that hire videographers — to cease their flights or face fines.

The commercial use of drones, however, doesn’t appear to be abating. One videographer, Raphael Pirker, challenged the $10,000 fine the FAA tried to impose on him for flying his small drone in an allegedly reckless manner near the University of Virginia.

An administrative law judge sided with Pirker, whose attorney argued the agency can’t ban commercial drone flights when it hasn’t formally adopted safety rules governing drone flights.

The FAA appealed the case to the five-member National Transportation Safety Board, and a decision is expected this fall.

“This is an extremely gray area,” said Stephanie Formas, the spokesperson for Rep. Maloney.

Members of Congress have been pressing the FAA to move more quickly to integrate commercial drone flights into the national airspace. But FAA officials, who have expressed concern about the safety of drones, have allowed only a very few commercial operations on a case-by-case basis.

FAA spokeswoman Kristie Greco said she had no immediate comment.

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