You don’t have to register your personal drone with the Federal Aviation Administration, according to a federal court in Washington, D.C.
The decision comes after John Taylor, a model aircraft hobbyist, won a lawsuit against the FAA’s drone registration requirement. The registration system, which went into full effect for consumers in late 2015, required non-commercial pilots to register their drones with the FAA. Taylor argued that the FAA did not have the jurisdiction over what the law considers model aircraft.
“Taylor does not think that the FAA had the statutory authority to issue the Registration Rule and require him to register,” wrote Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh in a statement. “Taylor is right.”
The court ruled that the FAA’s registration rules violated a law passed by Congress in 2012. The FAA Modernization and Reform Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Obama. One of its sections states that the FAA may not declare “any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” Basically, the FAA can’t regulate how hobbyists fly model aircraft.
Introduced by the FAA in late 2015, drone registration was a method of keeping tabs on drones for reasons of accountability and safety. It required owners to register their unmanned aircraft for flight, paying a $5 fee online and tagging their drone with an ID.
Since the FAA opened its registration system, over 800,000 owners have registered their drones. It’s worth noting the court’s the decision applies to hobbyists and not commercial pilots. Those flying for business will still have to register their drones.
Leaders in the industry have spoken out in regards to the court ruling. “DMA is studying the implications of today’s registration-related court ruling, but believes the existing system has worked well to protect the interests of safe and responsible pilots as well as the interests of society at large,” Kara Calvert, Executive Director of the Drone Manufacturers Alliance, stated earlier today. “As we wait for word on whether the FAA will appeal this ruling, we hope all sides see the benefit of a reasonable and minimally restrictive form of basic regulation that has helped make drone operations in America overwhelmingly safe. We look forward to working with policymakers on a long-term legislative solution.”