FAA announces drone registration rule

The Federal Aviation Administration on Dec. 14 formally announced the new rule requiring consumers to register their unmanned aerial systems weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds.

The announcement came on the heels of the recently released recommendations of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force Aviation Rulemaking Committee.  That group was tasked with providing recommendations to the FAA "on registration requirements and process for small UAS, including those used for commercial purposes, and all model aircraft.”

Under the new rule, any UAS heavier than 0.55 pounds that is purchased after Dec. 21 must be registered before the operator’s first flight outdoors. Owners of drones purchased prior to that date must register their drones by Feb. 19, 2016. 

Individuals can register either through the online portal http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration or via a paper-based system. Users must be at least 13 years old to register through the online portal.

The new rule follows many of the task force’s recommendations, including the requirement that users provide their name, home address and email address upon registering.  UAS serial numbers are not required; registrants will instead be issued a unique identification number that must be marked on all aircraft an individual owns. 

The registration is valid for three years.  And  in an effort to encourage as many UAS owners as possible to register quickly, the FAA is waiving the $5 registration fee for the first 30 days (ending on Jan. 20, 2016). 

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

The new registration system does not cover UAS uses other than hobby or recreation.  Business uses still require individual FAA approvals, which the agency has been granting for some time. The FAA aims to begin allowing online registrations for business use by the spring of 2016.

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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