If you registered an unmanned aireal vehicle (UAV) with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), you may be entitled to a refund.
Granted, not everyone is eligible, and the refund isn’t a substantial amount of money. Only those who registered their drone with the FAA for personal, non-commercial use are entitled to a refund — and the refund is only $5 (the cost of the initial registration). Nonetheless, many hobbyists are taking advantage of this refund.
So, why is the FAA issuing refunds for drone registrations? Earlier this year, a court ruled that the FAA’s drone registration rules were a clear violation of a law passed by Congress, which specifically prohibits the FAA from passing any laws regarding the operation of model aircraft.
The FAA began requiring drone operators to register their drones back in December 2015. Since then, some 820,000 people have registered their drones at a cost of $5 per drone. In case math isn’t your strong suit, that’s more than $4 million worth of registrations. But the FAA isn’t refunding all $4 million. Only drone registered for personal use are eligible for refunds. Drones registered for commercial use are not eligible for refunds.
The FAA further explained by saying the court essentially invalidated the registration process under section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, and that owners of model aircraft — including drones — are not required to register their aircraft with the FAA.
“The court’s decision invalidated the registration requirement as it applies to certain model aircraft that meet the definitional and operational requirements provided in section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (PDF). Owners of model aircraft which are operated in compliance with section 336 are not required to register,” explained the FAA on its official website.
Keep in mind that drone operators can still register their drones with the FAA. Only now, it’s optional instead of required. The purpose of drone registration is primarily for law enforcement. If a drone is used for illegal or dangerous activities, law enforcement can track down its rightful owner more easily if it is registered with the FAA. Being that most people don’t use their drones for illegal activity, however, this really isn’t an issue. So, consider seeking a refund if you registered your drone with the FAA.
If you’re interested in obtaining a refund and having your name from the FAA’s drone registration database, click here.