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The law is such an inconvenient thing: The U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that a recently imposed FAA requirement that amateur drone operators register their drone with the FAA is illegal.
Introduced in 2015, the mandatory drone registry required owners of unmanned aircraft weighing between 0.55 and 55 lb (250 g and 25 kg) to register their machines with the FAA. If not, they faced fines of up to $250,000.
This drew the ire of some in the drone industry, and the many hobbyists who had been flying small aircraft recreationally for years. One such hobbyist, John Taylor, went to the lengths of challenging the FAA’s new rule in the US Court of Appeals. Today, that court ruled in his favor.
“Taylor is right,” the decision reads. “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’ … 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.”
It is not surprising that a bureaucrat or government agency would try to impose more regulations on the public than is required or allowed. It is all about power, and these regulations give power to the regulators. What is different today is that the federal bureaucracy is now so large and so involved with regulating so many private activities, while the law has simultaneously become so complex and difficult to track, that these abuses happen routinely, unless someone with enough personal resources and determination decides to fight. And even here there is no guarantee that the courts will apply the proper law.