Federal court rules against drone hobbyist, sets stage for regulations

Federal court rules against drone hobbyist, sets stage for regulations
© Getty Images

A federal court on Friday upheld the government’s authority over hobbyist drone use.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's ruling against a drone hobbyist who sued the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is set to pave the way for new drone regulations.


The judges said Friday, according to Bloomberg, that while they intended to give drone hobbyists some exemptions, they would not invalidate the FAA’s rules governing amateur drone use.

“Because the rule is within the agency’s statutory authority and is neither arbitrary nor capricious, the petition for review is denied,” wrote Judge Merrick GarlandMerrick Brian GarlandMellman: Roberts rescues the right? McConnell easily wins Kentucky Senate primary Don't mess with the Supreme Court MORE, who penned the opinion for the panel.

The suit followed legislation Congress passed in 2012 giving the FAA authority over drones. The law specified that specific models of drones flown by hobbyists following certain safety rules were exempt from this authority.

In his suit, drone hobbyist John Taylor argued that all drone hobbyists, not just those specified by Congress, should be exempt from the FAA’s jurisdiction.

Technology companies such as Google and Amazon, who are building out their commercial drone programs, will likely welcome the news. They’ve argued for regulations on drone hobbyists, out of a desire to make sure the airspace they operate their systems in isn’t disrupted.