The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has ruled the FAA’s drone registry is unlawful. The ruling was handed down Friday, May 19, 2017.
As of March 2017, more than 770,000 operators had registered with the FAA. Nearly all paid a $5 fee.
On Dec. 24, 2015, Maryland-based lawyer and model aircraft hobbyist John Taylor sued the FAA.
Taylor’s main argument against the FAA’s registration requirement was that the FAA is prohibited by Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act from regulating model aircraft.
Writing for the court is Circuit Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh: “The 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act provides that the FAA ‘may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft,’ yet the FAA’s 2015 Registration Rule is a ‘rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.’ Statutory interpretation does not get much simpler. The Registration Rule is unlawful as applied to model aircraft.”“We are carefully reviewing the U.S. Court of Appeals decision as it relates to drone registrations,” noted an FAA statement regarding the decision. “The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats. We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision.”
The Academy of Model Aeronautics government relations blog notes the May 19 ruling “is effective immediately. As such, if you have not registered with the FAA, you are no longer required under the law to do so.
“For those of you who have already registered with the FAA, you may be wondering what this means for you. We are currently working to obtain answers from the FAA and will share more information as it becomes available,” AMA officials said.