Should the FAA have regulatory authority over model airplanes? It’s a more complicated debate than many people realize.
The drone debate has been back and forth and back again, with the FAA stressing that it wants to have the authority to regulate even recreational drones. The agency, you might remember, established rules last year requiring the registration of small drones, even those that were operated for recreation. A court this year nixed that plan, citing law that unambiguously states that the FAA isn’t allowed to regulate model airplanes. We don’t think the FAA legal folks missed that law. We think that they just felt so strongly about regulating drones that they pushed it through anyway, either hoping to triumph in court or figuring that they could use the denial to energize new legislation.