You Can Now Fly Drones Unhindered by the FAA

May 19, 2017

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Update 7/10/17 9:30am: If you paid the fee to register your drone with the FAA, you can now get the $5 refunded. To do so, visit the FAA’s website. There, you can also delete your registration in the FAA’s database as long as you confirm you’re flying your drone for recreational uses.


Drone owners received good news today after a federal court in Washington, D.C. issued a ruling stating that they’ll no longer have to register drones with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) if flying it for personal use. The court found that the regulation was in violation of the the FAA Modernization and Reform Act from 2012. The drone regulations, originally implemented in 2015, conflicted with a law banning the FAA from regulating model aircraft operation. Note, however, that if you’re using a drone for commercial purposes, you’ll still need to register it with the FAA.

Drone hobbyist John Taylor brought the case to the court with the argument that the FAA didn’t have the authority to deem what qualifies as a model aircraft. The court agreed with Taylor based on this reasoning. This ruling is good news for hobbyists who don’t want to deal with regulations and the $5 registration fee that was required for even a casual drone flight. However, many states and localities have their own rules when it comes to flying drones.

It’s possible that the FAA will appeal the ruling or that Congress will pass a new law to clarify the agency’s authority with respect to the operation of unmanned aircraft. The agency has registered more than 820,000 drones since it began doing so in 2015. There have been a number of safety incidents involving drones and the FAA has been strictly enforcing its regulations across the country.

For now, it’ll be easier for casual drone flyers to capture incredible aerial footage of destinations around the US, maybe as dramatic as this footage that was captured over Tokyo for an episode of TPGtv.

H/T: Recode

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

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