US drone registration system likely to make a come-back

The latest iteration of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 has been agreed in Washington with the likely consequence that drone operators with drones weighing more than half a pound will soon have to register their drones with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The move has been generally welcomed by drone operator organisations.

“Yesterday, House and Senate negotiators unveiled a compromise National Defense Authorization Act that includes a provision to reinstate the registration requirement for recreational unmanned aerial systems (UAS) operators. The Small UAV Coalition applauds Congress for restoring Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authority to maintain a national UAS registry,” said the Small UAV Coalition. Other industry bodies have also welcomed the move.

On 19 May this year the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit suspended a FAA rule requiring drone operators to register their vehicles with the FAA. According to an FAA statement shortly after the ruling:

“The court’s decision invalidated the registration requirement as it applies to certain model aircraft that meet the definitional and operational requirements provided in section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (PDF). Owners of model aircraft which are operated in compliance with section 336 are not required to register. Owners of all other small unmanned aircraft, including newly-purchased unmanned aircraft not operated exclusively in compliance with section 336, remain subject to the registration requirement. The FAA continues to encourage voluntary registration for all owners of small unmanned aircraft.”

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