The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the FAA’s authority to regulate amateur drone use late last week, denying a petition to review that authority filed by drone hobbyist John Taylor. Taylor had previously and successfully argued in federal court that the FAA’s amateur drone registration requirement was illegal under the 2012 FAA reauthorization act, a legislative loophole closed by Congress last year.
In denying Taylor’s latest petition and writing for the Court of Appeals, Judge Merrick Garland, stated, “Because the rule is within the agency’s (FAA’s) statutory authority and is neither arbitrary nor capricious, the petition for review is denied.” However, the Court did acknowledge that it was clearly Congress’s intent under the 2012 law to exempt certain amateur drone operators from regulatory burden provided they operated safely.
The Court’s ruling clears the way for the release of new, long-anticipated amateur drone rules from the FAA that are expected to include positive identification requirements. The FAA and various law enforcement and security agencies have long held that registration and positive identification are essential components of safely integrating all UAS into the National Airspace System and discriminating known users from criminals and terrorists.