A US appeals court on Friday overturned a federal rule that required owners of small drones operated for recreational purposes to register their model aircrafts.
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit sided with John Taylor, a drone hobbyist, who argued that the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn't have the statutory authority to issue the Registration Rule and require him to register any aircraft he might have.
"Taylor is right," Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the court's decision, noting that the Registration Rule, issued in 2015, violates 2012's FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which states that the regulator "may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft."
"We therefore grant Taylor's petition and vacate the registration rule to the extent it applies to model aircraft," Kavanaugh said.
The FAA said in a statement that it's carefully reviewing the decision.
"The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats," the agency said. "We are in the process of considering our options and response to the decision."
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Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, expressed disappointment with the court's ruling.
"A (drone) registration system is important to promote accountability and responsibility by users of the national airspace, and helps create a culture of safety that deters careless and reckless behavior," Wynne said in a statement.
"We plan to work with Congress on a legislative solution that will ensure continued accountability across the entire aviation community, both manned and unmanned."
China recently rolled out a "real-name" registration platform for civilian drones which began a trial run on May 18. From June 1, all users of civilian drones weighing more than 250 grams will have to be registered.