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News & Notes

Drone Hobbyists Can Receive Registration Refund

That's right, you can get your 5 bucks back

July 3, 2017

Drone hobbyists no longer have to register with the FAA. Those who did can delete their registration and receive a refund for the $5 registration fee — two major community concerns.

According to the FAA website, “If you are an owner operating exclusively in compliance with section 336 and you wish to delete your registration and receive a refund of your registration fee, you may do so by accessing a registration deletion and self-certification form (PDF) and mailing it to the FAA at the address designated on the form.”

That’s right: If you’re flying a drone recreationally and you registered with the FAA, you can get your 5 bucks back. And if you don’t want your personal information publicly accessible through the FAA’s registration database, you no longer have to volunteer it. Though keep in mind that commercial drone pilots still need to register with the FAA.
The ruling

In May, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that hobbyist drone registration was unlawful. It found that the FAA was outside its rights in enforcing a new rule for hobbyist drone operators.

John Taylor, a Maryland insurance lawyer and lifelong aviation hobbyist, filed a lawsuit on Dec. 24, 2015, against the FAA in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia arguing that the FAA did not have the authority to impose registration rules over model aircraft, which includes recreational drones.

His main argument against the FAA’s registration requirement was that the FAA is prohibited by Section 336 of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act from regulating model aircraft. And the federal court agreed with Taylor.

“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,” the ruling states.

What’s next

The FAA makes it clear that this isn’t the end of drone registration for hobbyists. “The FAA is working on a final rule with respect to registration and marking that will implement the court's decision,” the FAA website states.

A pending drone bill called the Safe Development, Research, and Opportunities Needed for Entrepreneurship Act of 2017, or the Safe DRONE Act, would also require recreational drone pilots to register. Learn more about that bill (and others) here.
Featured image: pixabay/janeb13