Drone user sues feds over registration rules

Greg Nash

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is being sued over its new rules that require drone users to pay a fee and register their devices with the federal government, Forbes Magazine reports.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, argues that the drone registration rules put in place last month violate a federal law that prohibits the FAA from regulating recreational drones. 

The lawsuit was filed by John Taylor, a drone hobbyist in Silver Spring, Md., who is requesting that court overturn the registration rules. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has said drone users will have to register their devices by Feb. 19 in a new Web-based tracking system that opened on Dec. 21, 2015. The agency is imposing a $5 fee for drone registrations over the objections of drone advocates, but the FAA said it is waiving the charge for the first 30 days of the new requirement. 

Critics have been threatening to sue the FAA over the drone registration rules since they were first announced in December.

The Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute said the FAA violated federal requirements for allowing public comments on the drone registration proposal, which usually lasts for a period of 30 to 60 days. 

The FAA has defended the legality of the drone registration system, saying it has authority to regulate all "aircrafts" that are flown in the U.S. 

"By statute all aircraft are required to register," the agency said in a statement that provided to The Hill in December.

"Congress has defined 'aircraft' to include [drones], regardless of whether they are operated by modelers and hobbyists," the agency continued.

The FAA declined to comment to The Hill on Tuesday about the lawsuit over its drone rules, saying it does not comment on pending litigation. 

-This post was updated with new information at 11:35 a.m.