Drone Hobbyist Sues FAA Over Registration Rules
A drone enthusiast alleges the FAA's drone registration rules are in direct violation of Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.
Well, that didn’t take long. Just days after launching its drone registry, Forbes reports the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is being sued in federal court, offering a glimmer of hope to drone hobbyists who don’t want to register their names and home addresses in a public database.
John A. Taylor, an insurance lawyer and multirotor builder and flyer, filed the lawsuit in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on December 24, contending that the FAA’s registration rules are illegal. He alleges that Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 specifically prohibits the FAA from promulgating any new rules or regulations regarding model aircraft if they’re flown for hobby or recreational purposes.
According to Forbes, Taylor requested an emergency stay of the FAA’s registration requirement, but that request was denied by the Court of Appeals on December 24, stating that Mr. Taylor ” has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review.” The case will now proceed according to a schedule issued by the Court, with the next filing deadline January 27.
MUST-READ: 10 Drones You Don’t Need to Register
Many others agree the FAA’s drone registry is violation of Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, including drone lawyer Jonathan Rupprecht who recently explored the issue on his blog. Here’s how the FAA responded to the Section 336 prohibition allegation in the registration rule document:
“The FAA disagrees with the comments asserting that the registration of model aircraft is prohibited by section 336 of Public Law 112-95. While section 336 bars the FAA from promulgating new rules or regulations that apply only to model aircraft, the prohibition against future rulemaking is not a complete bar on rulemaking and does not exempt model aircraft from complying with existing statutory and regulatory requirements. As previously addressed, Public Law 112-95 identifies model aircraft as aircraft and as such, the existing statutory aircraft registration requirements implemented by part 47 apply.”
Taylor expected a hobbyist group or drone manufacturers to file suit against the registration rules, but he decided to do it himself when nothing happened.
Drone Registration Lawsuit
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How the Drone Registration System Works
The FAA is requiring registration for drones that weigh between 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and 55 pounds (25 kilograms). For those who already owned a drone before the registration site went live on Dec. 21, 2015, you need to register by Feb. 19, 2016. Anyone who becomes a first-time drone owner after Dec. 21, 2015 must register before their first flight outdoors.
The FAA deviated from the task force’s recommendations a bit and will charge a $5 registration fee, no matter how many drones you own. So, essentially, the registration is tied to the owner, not the drone. The registration is valid for three years, and there will be a $5 renewal fee as well.
However, to encourage as many people as possible to register quickly, the FAA is waiving this fee for the first 30 days (from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016) that the registry is live. You might not be happy with this registration requirement, but why not register early and save $5. Afterall, failure to register a drone can result in civil penalties up to $27,500, and criminal penalties for failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000.
To register, you’ll need to provide your name, home address and e-mail address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for that must be marked on all of your drones.