The FAA’s rule had been struck down by a federal judge
Back in December 2015, the FAA announced that drone owners had to register any device over 0.55 pounds. The new rule was actually championed by big tech companies like Amazon and Google, and by drone industry players like Intel and DJI. Sensible regulations, they argued, would pave the way for faster growth of the industry overall.
But lots of consumers, especially veteran hobbyists who had decades of experience flying RC aircraft under their belt, were upset. One drone owner took the FAA to court, arguing that Congress had already decided the FAA had no jurisdiction over toy aircraft. In May of this year, a federal appeals court struck down the registration requirement.
The registration rule got a second life today, when it was signed into law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Count that as a win for industry, which got legislators to write broader powers for the FAA as a footnote in a much larger bill. Any future court cases will have to proceed from the premise that Congress has now explicitly endorsed the FAA’s jurisdiction over these small unmanned aircraft.
One of the industry’s biggest trade groups, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), had already embraced the new legislation. Brian Wynne, AUVSI’s president and CEO, said in a statement: “Congress has clearly embraced the need to propel the country forward on the march toward full UAS integration, including beyond-line-of-sight operations, flights over people, access to higher altitudes and even package delivery. We look forward to working with both the House and the Senate to realize the full potential of UAS.”
By Ben Popper at theverge