Drone Update: No FAA Registration Required for Hobby Aircraft

May 22, 2017

Last Friday, May 19, the District of Columbia circuit court agreed with John A. Taylor's assertion that the FAA does not have the statuary authority to issue the 2015 Registration Rule in which owners of small unmanned aircraft operated for recreational purposes must register their equipment with the FAA.

Circuit Judge Kavanaugh wrote, "Taylor is right. In 2012, Congress passed and President Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act. Section 336(a) of that Act states that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” Pub. L. No. 112–95, §336(a), 126 Stat. 11, 77 (2012)(codified at 49 U.S.C. §40101 note).The FAA’s 2015 Registration Rule, which applies to model aircraft, directly violates that clear statutory prohibition. We therefore grant Taylor’s petition and vacate the Registration Rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft. "

The FAA released a statement saying, "We are carefully reviewing the US Court of Appeals decision as it relates to drone registrations," it reads. "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 finding is based on an earlier use of the term 'model aircraft' which included UAVs at the time. The court opinion said Congress may or may not choose to amend the 2012 rule.

The court's decision does not impact registration for commercial drones. Read the entire brief here: