U.S. Unveils Hobby Drone Registry Rules, Deadlines

By | December 14, 2015

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has unveiled its registration process for owners of small unmanned aircraft (UAS), or small drones used for hobby or recreation.

The registration requirement applies to UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds including payloads such as on-board cameras.

Under the rule, any owner of a small UAS who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to December 21 of this year must register no later than February 19, 2016.

Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after December 21 of this year must register before the first flight outdoors.

This online registration system does not yet support registration of small UAS used for any purpose other than hobby or recreation – for example, using an unmanned aircraft in connection with a business. The FAA is still developing regulations for commercial drones.

The small UAS registry system incorporates recommendations by a registration task force that reported to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on November 21.

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said Foxx. “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.”

Owners may use either the paper-based process or the web-based system at www.faa.gov/uas/registration.

Owners must be at least 13 years old to register. If the owner of a UAS is someone younger than 13 years, a person 13 years or older must register it.

Registrants will need to provide their name, home address and e-mail address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft.

Owners using the model aircraft for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model UAS. The registration is valid for three years.

The normal registration fee is $5, but the FAA said it is waiving this fee for the first 30 days (from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016) in an effort to encourage as many people as possible to register quickly.

“We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season,” said FAA Administrator Huerta. “Registration gives us the opportunity to educate these new airspace users before they fly so they know the airspace rules and understand they are accountable to the public for flying responsibly.”

The FAA has projected that there are more than 1,000 close encounters between planes and drones a year.

The full rule from FAA contains reports of drone near-collisions and other incidents and answers to frequently asked questions.

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