In 2015, the FAA issued the Registration Rule, requiring all drone owners to register their model aircrafts, defined by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act as "an unmanned aircraft...flown for hobby or recreational purposes". About 745,000 hobbyists have signed up since the FAA regulation was enacted in 2015.
Seen as an unnecessary burden by some and a smart safety measure by others, the U.S. government's mandatory drone registry certainly had the desired effect. Commercial operators from photographers to oil pipeline and cellphone tower owners were forecast to buy another 10 million through 2020.
John Taylor challenged the FAA's rules for recreational drone registration. Brendan Schulman said he expected more discussion between industry and governments over the program.
Kavanaugh turned aside the FAA's assertion that it was authorized by existing rules to register drones, essentially finding no distinction between a drone and Boeing 737 aircraft.
The FAA said in a statement that it launched registration to ensure drones are operated safely and don't pose security or privacy threats.
"They want to be able to identify the drone operator if there's an accident or bad use of the drone", said Colin Snow, founder of drone research firm Skylogic Research.
The drone registration debate is separate from the debate over FAA regulations governing commercial drone operations, such as the delivery systems being planned by Amazon and other companies.
The FAA responded to the ruling on Friday by saying that it would review the decision before determining its next step, if any. "So I was pleased to see the court see it that way". The court declined to consider that argument, however, as the petitioner filed to file the claim within 60 days of the order's issuance. When asked how many unmanned aircraft he owns, he replied "a bunch", saying it was hard to count them all.
"The Registration Rule does not merely announce an intent to enforce a pre-existing statutory requirement", the judge wrote, but is "a rule that creates a new regulatory regime for model aircraft".
"For decades, AMA members have registered their aircraft with AMA and have followed our community-based safety programming", Hanson said. Drone users that did not register through their website were subject to civil and criminal penalties.
Congress pushed the FAA to regulate drones with a law in 2012, but it also added a provision that undid the effort. He vowed to seek a legislative fix in Congress.
"The number of unmanned aircraft has increased rapidly, creating significant concerns about the safety of the national airspace system, as well as the safety of persons and property on the ground", the FAA argued in a 2016 brief in the case.