Good news for drone hobbyists who were noble enough to register their aircrafts but could really use $5 right about now: The US Federal Aviation Administration is refunding registration fees and removing names from its registration database.
The FAA first started requiring drone owners to register small aerial vehicles on December 21, 2015. The registrations cost a small fee and lasted three years. In a statement at the time, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained why it was our civic duty to register our flying toys: “Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast[s] are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” he said. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
But on May 19, the US Court of Appeals ruled that the registration rule violated the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which bans model aircraft regulation. The FAA still urges drone owners to register drones, but can no longer require they do so, and will remove registrants from the database as long as they fill out this form and can confirm they only used their drone for recreational purposes.
Unfortunately for enthusiasts, this probably isn’t the final word on drone regulation. An FAA special committee consisting of representatives from 74 organizations (including Amazon, AT&T, and the NYPD) met last week to discuss a proposal for a remote drone identification system. Such a system, which would allow officials to ID drones and their owners from the ground, could lead Congress to reinstate the registration requirement. The group is meeting again on July 18 and will likely propose their recommended plan to the FAA in September.
So it’s entirely possible anyone who removes their name from this list will soon have to re-register. Enjoy your drone freedom while it lasts.