AI News, Court Ruling: The FAA Can't Make You Register Your Drone

Court Ruling: The FAA Can't Make You Register Your Drone

Here’s the important bit of the ruling (you can read the whole thing here): In short, the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act provides that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft,” yet the FAA’s 2015 Registration Rule is a “rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” Statutory interpretation does not get much simpler.

The FAA tried to argue that it needed to make a new rule in order to meet its general directive of “improving aviation safety,” but the court wasn’t having it: Aviation safety is obviously an important goal, and the Registration Rule may well help further that goal to some degree.

It’s great that the technology is so accessible and affordable, but it means that the population of drones (and of untrained users) is exploding, and there’s no particular reason for any of these people to get involved in a community of more experienced users, since most drones fly just fine right out of the box.

We plan to work with Congress on a legislative solution that will ensure continued accountability across the entire aviation community, both manned and unmanned.” There is certainly potential for danger from drones hitting people or aircraft, but there’s also a lot of uncertaintyin terms of how to mitigate these risks.

This is not to say that we should not make an effort towards proactive drone safety: With the FAA expecting over 3.5 million drones to be in the hands and skies of Americans by 2021, it seems certain that we’ll need some kind of framework to ensure safety (and privacy) before things get too crazy.

Many other things could change as well: I wouldn’t be surprised if there was an adjustment to the minimum mass of a drones that the FAA decides to care about, and it’s entirely possible that there could be a registration exemption for people who fly with community groups in designated areas, which could potentially satisfy model aircraft hobbyists as well.

Drone Hobbyist Defeats FAA's Illegal Model Aircraft Registration Rule

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.

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