FAA to Refund Registered Drone Operators $5 Each

The FAA's drone registry was deemed unconstitutional a few months ago. Now, the agency has to refund all drone operators on its database.

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has begun officially refunding any and all hobby drone operators who paid to have their unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) registered, during the time period wherein the FAA’s national drone registry was deemed constitutional and legal. That, of course, came to a halt a few months ago, when a local court deemed this legislation unconstitutional. According to Recode, the FAA made over $4 million during that period, comprised of $5 fees for each registering member. 

If you’re one of those lucky drone users, you can head on over to the FAA’s “Registration Deletion” page and claim your Abraham Lincoln back. As the press release states, regarding the nixing of the FAA’s drone registry, “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.” This means that if you’re flying a drone for non-commercial purposes, you no longer have to register. If you’re using UAVs for your business, however, you do. And of course, the FAA strongly urges you to register regardless of your recreational use.

As of May, the FAA has successfully registered more than 820,000 drone operators. That’s a lot, and an easy calculation of multiplying that number by five results in the FAA’s refund of $4 million. 

We recently reported on a meeting between the FAA, the New York Police Department, and Amazon executives. In that meeting, a newer, actually constitutional legislation is being hashed out, mainly focusing on remotely identifying drones as opposed to requiring registration before operating them. We’ll know more about the outcome of these meetings on July 18-19, when the FAA's "Drone ID Aviation Rule Committee" meets again.