Updating our previous post about the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules and regulations regarding the use of drones, an appeals court has struck down one of the more hotly disputed aspects of the program – the FAA’s registration requirement for recreational drone owners.
As part of the FAA’s drone program, FAA regulations require recreational drone users to register their drones. Registration requires users to provide their names, email and physical addresses, pay a $5 registration fee, and display a unique ID number on their drones. Nearly 300,000 drone owners registered within a month of the program’s unveiling.
The registration rule was controversial, not only because drone hobbyists complained that the requirement was burdensome, but also because many argued that 2012 legislation directing the FAA to safely integrate drones into national airspace specifically exempted model aircraft, including recreational drones, from any requirements.
The controversy ultimately led drone user John Taylor to sue the FAA. In a decision published late last week, the D.C. Court of Appeals agreed. As the opinion states:
The FAA’s 2015 registration rule, which applies to model aircraft, directly violates that clear statutory prohibition. We therefore grant Taylor’s petition and vacate the registration rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft.
Note that this decision applies only to recreational drone users – not commercial drone users, who are subject to more stringent standards, including pilot certification requirements.
The full decision is available here. The FAA has 90 days to either ask for a rehearing from the D.C. Circuit or appeal to the Supreme Court. We will keep you updated with any developments. If the decision stands, recreational drones of any size will not be subject to registration (currently, recreational drones under 0.55 lbs are exempt from registration, but recreational drones between 0.55 and 55 lbs must be registered).