Published: Sat, May 20, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

Appeals court strikes down FAA drone registration rule

Appeals court strikes down FAA drone registration rule

The rule - which had not been formally finalized - requires model aircraft owners to provide their name, email address and physical address; pay a $5 registration fee; and display a unique drone ID number at all times.

In December 2015, the FAA issued an interim rule requiring drone hobbyists to register their recreational aircraft with the agency. Maximum penalties for failing to comply included three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

"Congress is of course always free to repeal or amend its 2012 prohibition on FAA rules regarding model aircraft", the judges said. One such hobbyist, John Taylor, went to the lengths of challenging the FAA's new rule in the US Court of Appeals.

"AUVSI is disappointed with the decision today by the U.S. Court of Appeals to reject the FAA's rule for registering recreational unmanned aircraft systems".

"We are carefully reviewing the U.S. Court of Appeals decision as it relates to drone registrations", a spokesperson told TechCrunch.

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"The FAA put registration and operation regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats", the FAA said in a statement.

'We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision, ' it said. People who failed to comply with the regulations, meant to promote drone safety and help identify unsafe drone operators, risked fines and jail time. "I suspect they may be getting some phone calls".

Marc Scribner, a transportation policy expert at the Competitive Enterprise Institute who has previously spoken against the rule, congratulated Taylor.

Jonathan Rupprecht, a lawyer working with Taylor, considers the ruling a victory for the semantics of what a hobby drone is.

"A (drone) registration system is important to promote accountability and responsibility by users of the national airspace, and helps create a culture of safety that deters careless and reckless behavior", Wynne said in a statement. He also quickly dispensed with the agency's argument that its regulation of model aircraft fit with the law's larger goal of "improving aviation safety". For example, drone pilots still have to deal with restricted no-fly zones that include Disney theme parks, big events such as the Super Bowl, and the area around Washington, D.C. In the eyes of the court, it seems these are really just model aircraft. Today, that court ruled in his favor.

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