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May 19, 12:36 PM EDT

Appeals court strikes down FAA drone registration rule

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A federal appeals court has struck down a federal regulation that required owners of recreational drones and other model aircraft to register the devices with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA had announced the rule in 2015 in response to growing reports of drones flying near manned aircraft and airports. Drones have become increasingly popular with hobbyists and more than 550,000 unmanned aircraft were registered within the first year it was required.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled Friday that federal law prohibits the FAA from issuing any rules covering "model aircraft."

The ruling is a win for model aircraft enthusiasts who complained that the registration requirement was too burdensome.

The FAA said the regulation was part of its mission to improve aviation safety.

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