No more $5 FAA fee, John Taylor wins his case.


Should you be in America and come across this man you should probably buy him a beer. He fought the FAA and won. Their mucking about with 336 was not viewed well by the courts,

We discussed the Taylor case and other advocacy subjects in our weekly hangout a couple of weeks ago,

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  • Hi JB,

    Good breakdown of the groups, it's how i look at it too.

    I think it's important to clarify that Sub 2kg (or excluded category) flying have a bunch of additional rules that they have to follow - way more than a hobbyist.  Technically a hobbyist can fly upto 25kg device over public lands without any certification - despite what the MAAA says.  Not saying its a good thing but its whats allowed.

    The more I look at this stuff the more I think the NZ system is a much better model.  Hands some rights to property owners, respects the current air users and allows decent operations in protected areas (shielded operations).

    On the commercial side (which I guess is OT to this item), our changes last Sept just tinkered on the each of the regs - they seemed ground breaking but in reality they weren't.  They just legalised what was already happening, still lots of illegal commercial stuff happening still.  Once you apply CASA's risk mgt methods to it then it gets out of control.  Risk Management is partly subjective and they are used to tightly controlled parts and processes, these are not things that exist in the hobby space.  Sure commercial use I expect a higher level of requirements (for the record I'm a RePL holder and about to apply for my ReOC) and a high level of understanding of risk mgt.  What's missing from the risk mgt from CASA is that an aerial inspection of a tower could be a high risk or a medium risk (so use ALARP) yet the risk to send the person up maybe higher.

    Why is it subjective?  Tell me how does anyone honestly fill out the likelihood component without the data.  The operator makes the subjective judgement as to what the likelihood is.  If it goes wrong both CASA and ATSB could argue that it was flawed.  It is the least covered area of the RePL but yet perhaps on the most important areas.  NZ also uses the same risk mgt process but I'm not sure what their Part 102 training entails.


  • I suppose there's a Aussie perspective that is missing here. :-)

    The supposed intention of the rule was to make "flying things" safer. Paying $5 and registering people does nothing towards that IMHO, even if it might be preferred to a outright ban.

    Broadly, in my view there are three groups of users that need to be dealt with: 

    1) Malicious users that intentionally want to do something "evil", to endanger others and/or themselves, and act with impunity to the danger of their actions for whatever reason.

    2) Ignorant users that don't know how or where to operate vehicles in a safe manner

    3) Typical users that are willing to learn how, and intentionally operate and use the vehicles safely as best they can (but sometimes don't)

    For 1) there's nothing even an outright ban could stop. If someone wants to do damage using a UAV they will find a way to do it. That cat has been out of the bag for years now in regards to autopilot flight control, BLOS capability, targeting accuracy etc etc. It can't be put back in the bag anymore. The only way to decrease the risk is with active defence mechanisms for likely targets, and hefty fines to deter thrill seekers. No fly zones is a start, but typically not enough of a hurdle for a determined individual.

    For 2) This is a education and common sense issue. (Which in some cases can't be fixed - but remember these people drive cars too!) A test could help here, but doesn't ensure that everyone who flies a registered aircraft also has passed or taken the test. Community groups and clubs should be sponsored to take over the role of education and good "sports" etiquette. Rules in sports are normal, they should become so in UAV sports as well. For example: racing cars are not subject to speed limits on private roads but are on public roads - baseball bats can be lethal if not used "correctly" etc etc -  every user needs to accept the rules for where and what they operate. Society depends on it to function.

    For 3) This group probably accounts for ~90% of the population of users and they should not be unduly burdened with compliance issues. For this the Australian example is good. Limit the size of the vehicles to around 2kg and they become mostly (99%) non-lethal, anything larger requires registration and a competence test (which covers point 2 and even some of point 1 above as well). This effectively limits the risk, by reducing the numbers of platforms that are available and bigger than 2kg, as the manufacturing industry focuses on producing solutions that are possible under 2kg instead, which is the largest market to supply and make money from. Sub 2kg will cover 99% of users anyway and the larger sizes can be left to the enthusiasts and professionals. 

    In the case of property owners with enough land to fly, a 25kg size limit applies, but they have to operate it on their own property. (Leased or bought) That makes the land owner directly responsible, which they are anyway, for what whatever happens, and allows him to use it for work on farms etc. that nearly always have low potential for casualties because of the low population density in those areas. 

    Here a simple to understand rule flyer:

    And the Aussie CASA site:

    BTW sub-2kg is also free to operate commercially for payment as well.

  • For sure Rob, It will probably stimulate another round of rule / law making and it could go either way.

    The biggest problem was that it really addressed the toy market inappropriately, muddling it completely with the more serious users and you really can't regulate the toy market save making them illegal altogether.

    And given the ease of Chinese imports everywhere including cheap direct from China you would be totally ineffective at making it illegal in any case.

    It is probably going to take decades before a really workable system finally comes out of all this,

    Really we are evolutionarily still in the walk ten paces ahead of your car while swinging the lantern you are carrying back and forth phase.

    Sort of like your Focus.



  • I don't know. I don't think they know how good they had it.

    Canadians wish we could pay just $5 to have the government leave us alone.

    We don't have registration, but we are now required to have our name, address and phone number written on all our drones.  And 95% of the population can't fly anymore.

  • Developer

    Best news in a long time, and it does not even apply to me since I live in another country.

    That $5 registration 'rule' essentially functioned like some badly designed filter where the experienced users ignored it because it made no sense, and the stupid dangerous users also ignored it because they just did not care. A prime example of legislation made purely for political reasons with no practical application or effect.

    Rules of this kind are flawed by design. The only thing that help in the long run are educating users and going after the bad offenders, using already existing laws such as right to privacy, stalking and reckless endangerment etc.

  • "The three-judge panel said that safety was obviously important and making hobbyists register "may well help further that goal to some degree ..."

    So registering - and paying $5 makes things safer? That's a child-like idea.  What the FAA was essentially doing is saying that if you can pay $5 your idea of what is safe is valid. For $5 YOU can decide.  No test, no guidelines.
    They abandoned any risk analysis.

    What did their pay $5 and get a "license" policy do?  Here's one example.  A nice vertical shot showing the University of Washington's apple blossoms.

    The guy who took it researched the FAA's requirements and determined that as long as he paid his $5 it was perfectly fine to take a shot like this.  So what if he had a problem with his drone.  So what if just 10% of the people in the shot also decided to launch a drone at about the same time and get a similar shots.  The FAA said if you pay $5 everything is good.

    Another example.  Here's a video of a guy doing a MAIDEN of his 2.5+ kg drone.  Count the number of vehicles in the background.  It's > 50 and they are within 100 feet of the drone.

    Now neither of these examples are really that dangerous, but are they a good idea?  Flying directly over dozens of
    people?  Flying within a 100 feet of dozens of vehicles on a MAIDEN flight?  These are things that the FAA's policy
    actually promotes - IF you can pay $5.

    If flying small drones were a real safety hazard we would have had dozens of deaths and millions of dollars in property damage over the last year. Or the previous year.  Or the year before that.  It hasn't happened.  It has never happened.  

    Now for manned craft it happens every year.  Either the FAA is too stupid to understand the size differences involved or there is some corruption going on here.  Either way with the FAA incompetence rules!  And that is the one sure thing we can expect to see from them going forward.

    Bird's eye view: Photographing Cherry Blossoms with the DJI Phantom 4
    The cherry blossoms at the University of Washington are well known throughout Seattle, attracting hordes of photographers armed with professional cam…
  • Just proves that policy is not always lawful, despite the posturing and assumed authority by the departments. It's up to the people to stand up for their rights in order to enjoy the freedom and responsibility of self governance. Well done John!

  • Same here.. Never registered my toys.  I've been flying RC since the 80's and don't see how this is any different.  Other than it's much safer!  Those old RC planes in the 80s and 90's were always on the edge of control.  My drone flys itself!
    I support registering drones for commercial use.. Businesses need to be accountable.  But what I do in my yard and surrounding woods is no business of the FAA. 

  • This is great news. Big Gov slapped down in favor of the little guy.  (BTW, I never registered)

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