• 05/07/2020

Court Vacates FAA Registration Rule for Model Aircraft (Drones)

Court Vacates FAA Registration Rule for Model Aircraft (Drones)

Court Vacates FAA Registration Rule for Model Aircraft (Drones)

On Friday 19th May 2017 The United States Court of Appeals for the district of Columbia Circuit handed the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) a blow to the UAV/Drone registration law in the USA.

Until Friday, it was a legal requirement in the USA to register any UAV, drone or model aircraft. The online process was introduced in December 2015 by the FAA, and had two forms of registration. Commercial & recreation or “model aircraft”

In the case of John. A. Taylor vs. FAA which was argued March 14th 2017, the Court decided the FAA’s Registration Rule violates Section 336 of the FAA Modernisation and Reform Act.


 The Case

Mr Taylor, a Washington resident,  challenged the legal requirement to register “model aircraft”, and the implementation of no fly restricted zones in Washington and other areas.

The Court said:

“We grant Taylor’s petition for review of the Registration Rule, and we vacate the Registration Rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft.”

However, because Taylor’s petition for review of Advisory Circular 91- 57A is untimely, that petition is denied.

What does this mean for Drone Owners?

Court Vacates FAA Registration Rule for Model Aircraft (Drones)

Effectively, if you are a recreational hobby flyer in the USA, with a craft 250g to 25kg, you do not have to register your drone under the “model aircraft” program.

However for those expecting more will be disappointed. Mr Taylors’ request for review of NFZ was denied, based on his request was untimely and missed the required 60 day response from implementation.

The rules for safe flying have NOT changed. Flyers should still have their craft in VLoS at all times, keep under 400ft, and keep away from congested areas. Drone owners can still be fined for miss use, for the interim though, you cannot be prosecuted for an unregistered drone.



Bruised from this decision, as of today, the FAA are considering their response. The case seems to have hinged on the terminology used in the law “model aircraft” when in relation to sUAV or Drones. Will this lead to more restrictive conditions as has been the case in Canada? Either way, the rest of the world watch in anticipation.

The full decision can be found HERE


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