On or about November 16, 2017, the United States Senate acted speedily to pass the “National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018,” H.R. 2810 (“Defense Reauthorization Act”), originally introduced in January of 2017, and now awaiting signing by President Trump.
Specifically, the Defense Authorization Act reinstates the original “mandatory FAA regulations,” governing all model aircraft of the specified sizes, and requiring operators to register with FAA, i.e., provide their names, physical mailing and e-mail addresses, and any other information FAA chooses to require. Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft, 80 Fed.Reg. 78,594 (December 16, 2015), at 78,595-96. In addition, the FAA’s original 2015 registration rule also created an online platform for registration, established a $5.00 per individual registration fee, set compliance deadlines, and required all small unmanned aircraft to display a unique identifier number issued by the FAA. Perhaps most onerous are the penalties faced by model aircraft owners who do not register which include civil or criminal monetary penalties and up to three years imprisonment. Id. at 78,630.