Federal Court Has Spoken – FAA Drone Registration Requirement Is Abolished
If you are already a drone pilot or you are thinking about getting into the drone arena then you are likely familiar with the FAA done registration requirement. The requirement stated that any drone weighing more that .55lbs and less that 55lbs had to register their drones, and the registration fee was $5. Well according a federal appeals court in Washington D.C.the rule is unlawful and violated the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.
The specific legislation that is prohibiting FAA drone registration is found in Section 336 (FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 PDF) “…the Federal Aviation Administration may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft…” The appeals court determined that the requirement to register a violation of this law. Which states that the FAA may not make any new rules regarding model aircraft. By definition a model aircraft is any aircraft weighs less that 55lbs and is flown for hobby or recreational use. The law further stats what we should all be doing as responsible drone operators, “the aircraft is operated in a manner that does not interfere with and gives way to any manned aircraft.” In other words stay clear of airplanes.
Upon reading further we also learn that the rule about flying withing 5 miles of an airport is not a hard and fast rule. “when flown within 5 miles of an airport, the operator of the aircraft provides the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower (when an air traffic facility is located at the airport) with prior notice of the operation model aircraft operators flying from a permanent location within 5 miles of an airport should establish a mutually-agreed upon operating procedure with the airport operator and the airport air traffic control tower.” This is good news because a lot of us were under the impression that it was not permitted to fly withing 5 miles of an airport whatsoever. We now know that we can, if we are responsible and contact the control tower prior to our flight and let them know. Great news for anyone that plans to within that 5 mile radius of an airport.
Fees to be refunded and records to be stricken
If you paid your $5 to register your drone because the FAA drone requirement you are entitled to not only a refund of that money but you may also expunge your illegally gathered information. The form to do that is here (https://www.faa.gov/uas/getting_started/registration_deletion/media/FAA_Registration_Deletion_and_Refund_Form_Instructions_FINALv2.pdf)
This is a big blow to the FAA and their ideas of the rapidly changing drone airspace and operators. I am certain the FAA is working on legislation to allow them to gather the information and get people in a system. A few drones running into planes is really all it takes to change some minds. So be safe and overly cautious with your drone flight so that we can avoid that for as long as possible.