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FAA's drone registration rule suffers major setback

20 May 2017

In short, the decision reads, despite the fact that FMRA bars any promulgation of new rules or regulations for model aircraft, the 2015 registration rule is, in the FAA's own words, a "rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft".

"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". Failure to do so could result in fines of up to $27,500, as well as potential criminal penalties of up to three years in prison, and additional fines of up to $250,000.

Now, if a person buys a new drone to fly for fun, they no longer have to register that aircraft with the FAA.

While he filed the case himself, Taylor said he had the assistance of several attorneys who specialize in aviation law.

In its decision handed down today (see opinion) the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was pretty direct. "We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision", it said.

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The FAA responded to the ruling, saying it is "carefully" reviewing the decision.

In March, the FAA head Michael Huerta said that one of the next set of problems it plans to tackle for drone regulations will be to craft a way for unmanned aircraft to be remotely identified, which will help law enforcement know who is flying a drone, even if the pilot isn't visible.

Kavanaugh turned aside the FAA's assertion that it was authorized by existing rules to register drones, essentially finding no distinction between a drone and Boeing 737 aircraft.

The world's largest drone manufacturer, China-based SZ DJI Technology Co.

The Federal Aviation Administration had adopted the rule in 2015, no small, unmanned drones could take to the sky before their owners paid a $5 registration fee with disclosure of their names and any mailing and email addresses.

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The drone registration debate is separate from the debate over FAA regulations governing commercial drone operations, such as the delivery systems being planned by Amazon and other companies.

Ahead of Friday's ruling, the FAA told the appeals court that "it would threaten the safety of the national airspace system" if the court nullified the registration requirement. "The Registration Rule is unlawful as applied to model aircraft".

In March, Huerta gave a speech where he said that America is considered "the gold standard in aviation, " due to the safety regulations put in place by the FAA.

Taylor also challenged FAA restrictions on where drones can operate in the Washington area.

The FAA issued its first batch of rules for small commercial drones a year ago, and further regulatory actions are expected to address such scenarios as flights over the uninvolved public and flights beyond an operator's line of sight.

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FAA's drone registration rule suffers major setback