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FILE - In this June 11, 2015, file photo, a hexacopter drone is flown during a drone demonstration in Cordova, Md. An appeals court has struck down a Federal Aviation Administration rule that required owners to register drones used for recreation.  (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)
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Appeals court strikes down FAA drone registration rule

FILE - In this June 11, 2015, file photo, a hexacopter drone is flown during a drone demonstration in Cordova, Md. An appeals court has struck down a Federal Aviation Administration rule that required owners to register drones used for recreation. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal appeals court on Friday struck down a federal rule 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 that federal law prohibits the FAA from issuing any rules or regulations 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 rule was part of its mission to improve aviation safety. The three-judge panel agreed that safety is an important goal, but said it’s up to Congress to change the law.

Registration cost $5 and had to be renewed every three years. It required owners to mark aircraft with an identification number and imposed civil and criminal penalties on those who did not comply.

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