In 2015, the FAA passed a Registration Rule that required drone pilots to register their drones with the FAA, which included drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds. Unfortunately for the FAA, they didn’t count on drone enthusiast and fellow attorney John A. Taylor.
Taylor took the FAA to court to fight the Registration Rule on the basis that the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 specifically states that the FAA may not “promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” Moreover, the 2012 law defines model aircraft as “an unmanned aircraft that is — (1) capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (2) flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and (3) flown for hobby or recreational purposes.”
It sounds pretty simple, right? Well, as it turns out, it is.
In examining the FAA’s actions in creating the Registration Rule, the D.C. Court of Appeals noted, “Statutory interpretation does not get much simpler. The Registration Rule is unlawful as applied to model aircraft.”
Boom. That’s it. The drone Registration Rule does not apply to non-commercial use of a drone.
Of course, the FAA has the ability to appeal this further up stream to the Supreme Court, or the FAA can simply look back to Congress for additional authority concerning its regulation of drones. While it’s not the end of this story, flying your drones for fun is now outside the jurisdiction of the FAA.
Be safe and don’t do anything stupid that would put yourself or others in danger. Take a moment to read the AMA Model Aircraft Safety Code for some common sense guidelines in operating your drones.