Drone Hobbyist Defeats FAA’s Illegal Model Aircraft Registration Rule

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of Maryland attorney John Taylor, a drone hobbyist who challenged the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) illegal December 2015 regulation requiring recreational drone users to register with the FAA prior to flying.

Taylor successfully argued that Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) forbids FAA from promulgating any new regulation, including a mandatory registration requirement, on model aircraft. The rule has now been vacated with respect to recreational drone users.

The FAA brought this rule immediately into force under what is known as an interim final rule (IFR) by invoking the Administrative Procedure Act’s (APA) “good cause” exception (5 U.S.C. § 553(b)(3)(B)), which bypasses the Act’s public notice and comment invitation rulemaking requirements if the agency can show normal notice-and-comment procedures “are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest.”

CEI filed comments in January 2016 in response to FAA’s drone registration IFR, arguing that it both violated FMRA Section 336 and that the agency failed to justify its invocation of the APA’s good cause exception on any of the exception’s three prongs.

I spoke on a Heritage Foundation panel with Taylor in April 2016, where we made the case against FAA’s illegal rule. Watch it below:

Kudos to John Taylor for fighting for the rights of drone hobbyists and holding FAA accountable for its lawless behavior!