Buying a drone for fun just got a little less complicated.
A court ruling has declared that civilians c no longer need to register their non-commercial drones with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of drone user John Taylor, who filed an initial petition challenging the drone registration rule back in 2015, just days after the FAA’s drone registry went live in December of that year.
The rule required drone hobbyists to pay a $5 fee to register their drone with the FAA’s website.
However, the judge in Taylor’s case cited the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, signed by President Obama, which states that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” According to the FAA, there have already been 300,000 drones registered with the agency.
“The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe.”
“We are carefully reviewing the U.S. Court of Appeals decision as it relates to drone registrations,” a statement on the agency’s website read following the ruling on Friday. “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.”
And while this might seem like a victory of freedom-loving hobbyists, in recent years non-commercial drones have increasingly popped up in incidents involving potentially dangerous proximity to airplanes and neighbors complaining of the devices being used to invade their privacy. The drone registration program was at least one measure that may have worked to keep non-commercial drone users from acting irresponsibly by holding them accountable via registration information.
But that’s all over, for now.
Until the FAA announces its next move, the skies are once more a drone free-for-all, and we’ll likely find out soon just how useful the drone registration was or wasnt in terms of keeping flying robots on the right side of the law.