Patrick Neale Consumer and Business Lawyer Blog

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

New Court Decision is a Victory for Non-Commercial Drone Owners

The US Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia handed down a decision on Friday (May 19, 2017) in a closely watched case, known as Taylor v Huerta, that changes the FAA rules for Drone (UAS) registration.

What has changed?

This case challenged the “Registration Rule” 80 Fed. Reg 78,594 (Dec. 16, 2015) formally known as “Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft”. That rule required that all small unmanned aircraft operators, whether commercial or recreational, had to register their aircraft.

Unmanned aircraft operated for recreational purposes are, according to the Court, known as “model aircraft.” This decision by the Court overturned the portion of the FAA Registration Rule that required model aircraft operators to register their aircraft. 

What is the benefit?

The decision is a victory for the model drone/aircraft business in that the buyers of drones for recreational use will no longer have to register their aircraft. Commercial Drone owners must still register their aircraft, as was required before this ruling.

What has not changed?

The Court was careful to note in the decision that Section 336(b) of the Act expressly preserved the FAA’s authority to “pursue enforcement action against persons operating model aircraft who endanger the safety of the national airspace system.” So, recreational drone operators still must operate safely and are in jeopardy of punishment by the FAA if they do not. 

All other FAA regulations regarding drones, commercial and recreational, remain in effect.  It is to the utmost importance to understand and operate within all Local, State and Federal requirements.  Just because you may be a recreational operator, you are not exempt from all FAA regulations.  Be an informed operator. 

If you have questions about how recreational drones are classified or the interpretation of regulations, feel free to contact our office.  Also check out our Drone Law page.

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5470 Bryson Court, Suite 103, Naples, FL 34109
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