Thursday, December 21, 2017 – If you ’ll be unwrapping the gift of a drone this holiday season, before you take it to the skies on its maiden flight, be sure you’ve registered your drone with the FAA.
With the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act on December 12th of this year, all drone owners are now required to register their unmanned aircraft systems. Previously, two groups were exempt.
Some owners were exempt due to their membership in a community based organization focused on safe and appropriate use through established guidelines and education. Owners of drones less than .55 pounds were also previously exempt. Now both groups must comply along with all other drone owners.
Registration is not new to most current drone pilots.
Since December 2015, FAA began requiring drone registration. More than 300,000 drone owners signed up within the first month. Today, there are close to 1,000,000 registered.
In May of this year, model aircraft hobbyists, led by the Academy of Model Aircraft (AMA), fought the registration requirement and the associated fee, arguing the FAA had no jurisdiction over hobby aircraft and that registration through a community based safety program, such as the one that AMA has, is more effective than a mandated program by the federal government. A drone owner went to court based on this premise and won. The FAA, however, continued to have concerns about aviation safety regarding drones and were able to include the mandatory registration for all drones and all user groups in the National Defense Authorization Act.
Now that the registration requirement is law, the FAA believes they will be better equipped to ensure that drones are operated safely.
Register your new drone on the FAA’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Registration Service. The cost is $5. If you own more than one drone, you only need to register once, but each drone must display a registration number. Also, before you take to the skies, browse Drone Operator Safety and Privacy Guidelines to help ensure you stay on the right side of the law. In fact, before taping up that gift wrap, Moms, Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas would be wise to stick in a note with the registration website and a copy of the guidelines booklet!