In May 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals recently issued a ruling affecting the FAA’s drone registration database. The D.C.-based court sided with drone hobbyist John Taylor, who argued that the Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t have jurisdiction over what the law classifies as model aircraft. For more detail, you can read the TechCrunch article about it.
What does this ruling mean, for commercial UAS activity in Colorado? Here is an overview, provided by UAS Colorado’s CEO, Constantin Diehl:
Today’s ruling affects the Hobby and Recreational Model Aircraft drones only.
All Commercial / Professional uses of Drones still require registration with the FAA. That includes all current and future uses by Federal and State entities, Commercial entities, individuals providing services with drones and all Educational and Research uses by schools and Universities.
UAS Colorado is a Industry Business League. Hence the vast majority of the Drone uses our members engage in still require FAA Registration.
Today’s ruling however reaffirms the protection that Model aviation enjoys from being regulated under federal law. Model Aviation has traditionally been supported and organized by community based organizations such as the AMA. The AMA has been in existence before the FAA was created. Such organizations have typically build a strong safety culture and an excellent safety record.
Model Aviation provides early access for kids to experience and learn about aviation. Many of today’s top engineers, scientists, pilots and other aviation professionals started out flying model aviation aircraft as kids or teenagers. Many of today’s professionals in the drone industry had a model aviation background earlier in their lives.
I expect the hobby drone users and in particular the exiting and increasingly popular Drone Racing will follow the same pattern established by the AMA, i.e. build a strong community based network of mutual support, respect and a strong safety culture.