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Texas Search Group Sues FAA Over Drone Use

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HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A Texas-based group involved in searches for missing persons around the nation has filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to set aside an order prohibiting the nonprofit organization from employing drones in its work.

A fleet of four unmanned model aircraft used by Texas EquuSearch has been grounded by the Federal Aviation Administration until the agency develops rules that allow for the commercial use of unmanned aircraft.

The lawsuit filed on Monday in a Washington, D.C., appeals court says there is no basis in law to prohibit the operation of model aircraft for humanitarian search and rescue activities.

FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford says the agency did not have an immediate response to the lawsuit.

The FAA ordered Texas EquuSearch in February to stop using drones in its searches.

EquuSearch isn’t the only Texas company hoping to take advantage of drone technology.

The University of Texas Arlington Research Institute, or UTARI, is part of a state-wide push to cash in on the future of drones. They’re researching ways unmanned vehicles can function safely in the air, on the ground — even in the water. And at RP Flight Systems in Austin, generations of unmanned aircraft are on the walls, hanging from the ceiling, and scattered on the racks and workbenches of Gene Robinson.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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