FAA Drone Registration Rule Struck Down

FAA Drone Registration Rule Struck Down

Last week, a federal appeals court struck down a federal rule that required operators of RC aircraft to register the devices with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that federal law prohibits the FAA from issuing any rules or regulations covering “model aircraft.”

The ruling is a win for model aircraft enthusiasts who complained that the registration requirement was too burdensome.

The FAA said the rule was part of its mission to improve aviation safety. The three-judge panel agreed that safety is an important goal, but said it’s up to Congress to change the law.

Registration cost $5 and had to be renewed every three years. It required owners to mark aircraft with an identification number and imposed civil and criminal penalties on those who did not comply.

Here’s the FAA response to the decision: “We are carefully reviewing the U.S. Court of Appeals decision as it relates to drone registrations. The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats. We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision.”

What’s your prediction on how this ruling will go in the future?


  1. It was a waste of time and taxpayer money. If you are an AMA member, who puts his or her number on their aircraft, it does the same thing

    1. But what about the clowns that are NOT AMA members? They are the ones this was targeted for. Perhaps a law that says either registration though FAA or AMA? But not both! I think that may be palatable… And it may also drive AMA membership.. Oooh.. And how about instead of $5 for registration.. The FAA makes it the same cost to as AMA membership?

      1. Did you forget about the insurance ?


    1. Paul your UAS p51 is a drone they have been calling military fixed-wing uas drones for years before multi-rotors ever existed.

  3. I’m sure the FAA is not done with this matter! It’s the government they won’t be happy until they are taking our money and over regulated this fun hobby. Bottom line now the FAA has all the registered people’s information and we can all kiss our $5 goodbye! AMA did some stand up for the members BUT I feel they laid over and let some other fight this fight.

  4. The FAA is an already overburdened and in some cases poor performing government agency. This power grab was unjust aimed at a group that has for many years successfully self regulated and shown real concern for the safe operation of model aircraft.

  5. But what about the clowns that are NOT AMA members? They are the ones this was targeted for.
    You see the videos all over YouTube.. They are flying unsafely in civilian airspace.. At 700 + feet.. Those are potential hazards. Wait until one of those clowns hit a civilian or military or law enforcement aircraft… The FAA will come down on us “legal/safe” models like a ton of bricks…

    Perhaps a law that says either registration though FAA or AMA? But not both! I think that may be palatable… And it may also drive AMA membership.. Oooh.. And how about instead of $5 for registration.. The FAA makes it the same cost to as AMA membership?

  6. I don’t blame the FAA. Their reasoning is sound. They are trying to ensure the safety of the flying public. The real problem is irresponsible drone flyers, I do not call them RCers or hobbyists because they are not like us. When a US airliner goes down with a couple hundred people on board, you will see the FAA was right.

    1. There is no body count when it comes to drones in America. There is no epidemic here so there is absolutely no reason for our govt to force people to “register” and pay money to the govt.

      “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” –Ben Franklin

  7. I believe in registration unless you have current AMA and are complying with AMA ID rules. The FAA has federal funding and there should be no fee . Also the FAA should give a refund to those who did not register early as I did and paid a fee. Also once you register you should not need to re-register unless your address changes.

  8. The AMA has been doing a good job of managing and regulating model aviation since 1935. The FAA was established in 1958. It’s a “no-brainer” to decide which organization has the experience and knowledge required for managing safe flying of model aircraft.

    Neal Martin AMA #140408

  9. To respond to RC:
    If a US airliner goes down with a couple hundred people on board due to a “model aircraft”, registering with the FAA will not prevent the tragedy. The tragedy is the FAA getting into governing our hobby which the court has decided is illegal

  10. This may be a case of be careful what you wish for. The last thing any RC modeler should want is for congress to get involved and decide new laws. That could be an absolute disaster. At least the FAA has experience in airspace, and a love for aviation. Congress will only pander to the fear factor. The so called “burdensome” registration process is a non-issue. It takes minutes, while we all spent hundreds of hours on our models, not to mention thousands of dollars..

    1. You don’t want congress to fulfill it’s constitutional duty? You’d rather they delegate everything to another agency? That isn’t representation of the people any longer.

  11. Government has a way of torturing truth and common sense until there is neither truth or common sense. The FAA’s ill-advised regulation was a great PR stunt that did nothing to ensure aviation safety. Idiots and terrorists will not register and don’t give a damn for laws or regulations. It did waste millions of taxpayer dollars and soured many law-abiding citizens away from a wonderful hobby. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit deserves much praise, in that their ruling has both truth and common sense! Let’s pray that the ruling is not reversed.

  12. This whole thing is akin to gun laws…… If you are going to do harm, laws are the last thing you follow.
    Too many “citizens” can walk in off the street and purchase a drone that can easily be flown without the benefit or need of flight instruction that an organized flying community can provide. When they are used for harm, they take us down with them by association.

  13. Laws/registration are ONLY for law abiding citizens. If you are going to do something malicious or illegal you are NOT going to register your aircraft. The FAA does NOT distinguish between an RC fixed wing/helicopter or quad….they are all DRONES as far as the FAA is concerned. Most of the problem lies with the “big box stores” for not educating the buyer, they are only concerned with a sale.

  14. A lot of people are missing an important point, 336 defines what constitutes model aircraft and recreational use, and then prohibits the FAA from regulating model aircraft when operated for recreational use! This was the FAA’s overreach that was struck down.

    Among the requirements to be covered under the 336 carve out is that the operator is a part of a national organization such as the AMA and operating under its guidelines. As an aside, is there really any alternative organization similar to the AMA (just asking, as I’m not aware of any)?

    So nothing has really changed for non-AMA members since you don’t actually fall under the 336 carve out, which is where the non-regulation language is found that court used to strike this down!!

    The FAA will say that if you are unable to produce an AMA (or similar, if it exists) membership that you will still be required to register with them.

    A primary goal of the registration of model aircraft was to be able to reach the widest number of new model aircraft operators with safety information that they might not otherwise be exposed to, in addition to the goal of linking model aircraft to their operators and having a “paper trail” of responsibility should it be needed.

    They can still achieve this with new operators being reminded to either join the AMA (to be inside 336, following it’s restrictions) or to register on the FAA website (if they choose to operate outside of 336, such as for BLOS FPV). Since the AMA already cooperates with the FAA on investigations, the FAA achieve their goals either way.

    In the final analysis, this ruling only really affects AMA members (so you need only one number attached rather than both AMA and FAA), and puts things back the way Congress intended in that section of the law.

    Of course, since the FAA re-authorization is up for renewal again, there is NO telling what will happen! But I doubt 336 will remain the same…

  15. All it’s going to take is one incident where a commercial airliner and a model plane or drone meet, and the airliner crashes and everyone dies to end the whole thing for everyone. The AMA at least preaches safety, but there are a lot of folks who fly these model aircraft who don’t care about AMA membership. They just want to get out and fly. And here’s something a lot of people have not considered in all of this. Many of the planes nowadays are advertised as “teach yourself to fly,” with the idea that one can learn to fly on their own, without taking lessons. I know a lot of the manufacturers have fought the FAA, but in a way they may have hurt themselves with this kind of advertising. And these “teach yourself to fly pilots” could hurt themselves or others because they haven’t had actual training. Teaching yourself to fly is a recipe for disaster. Better all the way around to learn from an experienced instructor. To learn to do all of this right, there isn’t any real alternative that is safe.

  16. FAA needs to be sued for ABUSE OF POWER and for illegally taking all those fees. The law was quite clear that they were to stay out of regulating model airplanes. But in their zeal, they rationalized that away. They decided they owned the sky AND everything in it.

    The registration site is still up! That looks like more of the same continuing ARROGANCE OF POWER. Incorrigible! They won’t follow the law unless they’re forced (again!), and until they pay hard.

  17. I TOLD the FAA that CONGRESS said “hands off,” but did they listen?? NNOOooooo. Now the court has told the FAA “hands off.” Will they appeal? Sure. Why shouldn’t they? They have ALL the money in yours and my pockets to hire tons of lawyers and round and round we go!

  18. Why air calling simple hobbiest clowns? Some people just want to simply follow common sense rules, fly their planes with their kids and enjoy life just like the brothers that pioneered this activity. Their not clowns but hard working freedom loving Americans.

  19. Why are you calling people clowns when they are your neighbors, friends, and family members. Some hard working folks that just want to simply go to the park with their kids and create memories. Most follow common sense rules just like you and want to enjoy the freedom to be happy just like the two brothers that pioneered this recreation. No they are not clowns but familiar faces. How many of you can still remember the fun that you had as kids that led you where you are today? was a membership involved or was it just you and that dad, friend or other family member that made you feel happy to be a kid still filled with simple wonders in life. Let’s not extinguish all the fun with the burden of overregulation.Just remember that these craft are still only toys to thrill and add joy to hearts of the kid that is in all of us.

  20. This just another example of big brother government. It has come to the point that I can no longer fly my foam electric park flyer legally or to allow my golden retriever off leash for a quick swim on a rural lake. Now there are no fireworks allowed, even at the beach. I cannot smoke within 50 feet of a doorway in San Fransisco. Every year the list of guns that I cannot purchase in California grows and now politicians are trying to make it illegal to purchase ammunition for the guns I already own. This country is getting pathetic.

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