FAA's drone registration rule suffers major setback

Court strikes down FAA drone registration rule

In a statement the FAA said the registration rule had aimed 'to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats'. An appeals court has struck down a Federal Aviation Administration rule that required owners to register drones used for recreation. Some drone owners did not agree that the government should put in place such a registration system, and sued the FAA.

The FAA instituted its registration fee for non-commercial drones weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds in late 2015.

The court also addressed the FAA's argument that the rule is consistent with the agency's general directives as laid out by FMRA: to "improve aviation safety".

Taylor represented himself in the fight against the FAA, and did not respond to a request for comment beyond a press release announcing the decision.

Registration cost $5 and had to be renewed every three years.

The FAA estimates that hobbyists will buy 2.3 million drones this year and 13 million by the end of 2020.

The three-judge panel said that safety was obviously important and making hobbyists register "may well help further that goal to some degree", but it was up to Congress to repeal the ban on FAA rules for model aircraft.

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

Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, expressed his disappointment and vowed to work with Congress on new safety regulations. 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.

"The FAA's innovative approach to drone registration was very reasonable, and registration provides for accountability and education to drone pilots", Brendan Schulman, DJI's vice president of policy and legal affairs, said in an email. "We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision".

"This is one of the law enforcement community's top concerns, and we hope the recommendations we receive will pave the way for expanded drone operations over people and beyond visual line of sight, " Huerta said.

The law the court said the FAA violated is set to expire in September, and Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota), chairman of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has said that he plans to introduce a bill in the next couple of weeks to address FAA modernization, Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, told Recode.

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