If you’ve been following the drone registration saga in the United States, you may remember that in May a Federal Appeals Court struck down the FAA’s drone registration requirement.
The registration requirement, which mandated hobbyists pay $5 and submit their personal information into an FAA database and attach a registration number to their drone, was relatively mild. However it clashed with an existing federal law that prohibited the FAA from enacting new rules regarding model aircrafts.
Specifically, Judge Kavanaugh of the D.C Circuit ruled that the FAA doesn’t have the authority to “promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft,” and that is exactly what they were doing with their drone registration database.
So the FAA is now offering to refund the $5 paid by people who registered their drones. They also are offering to delete your entry in the registration database, as long as you certify that your drone is being flown strictly for recreational use and will fly “in accordance with a community-based set of safety guidelines”.
If you registered your drone during the introductory period when the FAA waived the $5 fee, you won’t be eligible for a refund.
You can see the refund/deletion form here, which needs to be printed, filled out and mailed to the FAA for processing.
Of course the FAA is still encouraging voluntary registration for all drone owners, which over 820,000 people have done since the database was introduced in late 2015.
This isn’t the last we’ll hear from the FAA on drone oversight. While the FAA isn’t allowed to create new rules regarding model aircraft, congress absolutely can.
And since most players in the drone world, including DJI and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International are in favor of a centralized registration database, it’s likely congress will soon either implement the a similar rule themselves or rewrite the law that prevented the FAA from doing it themselves.