With mounting concerns about hobby drones getting too close to aircraft and an increase in new drone owners this holiday season, you're soon going to have to register that fun little drone of yours. So how will the process work?
Over the weekend, a task force made up of industry and government officials submitted its recommendations for drone registration. The task force was organized last month by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Association with a goal of creating accountability and keeping our national airspace safe. While a law has been in place since 2012 that requires anyone operating a drone to register it with the FAA, up until this point, it has not been enforced among small hobbyist drones.
The 10 main recommendations from the UAS Registration Task Force are as follows:
- Drones that are operated outside have "a maximum takeoff weight" of anywhere between 250 grams and 55 pounds would be required to register.
- Each owner would get a single registration number so if he or she has multiple drones, they don't all need to be registered individually.
- Users don't need to be registered to purchase a drone, but they do have to be registered before they start flying it.
- Name and street address are required to register, but the serial number of the UAS, owner mailing address, phone number and email are all optional.
- You have to be 13 years old or older to register.
- The FAA doesn’t require information about citizenship or residency to register.
- Registration is free.
- The registration system would live online and likely be accessible through an app as well. There would also be an API component that would allow for the creation of custom apps that could work in concert with the database.
- Owners would receive an electronic copy of their registration certificate but a paper copy would also be available. The e-certificate would have the owner's name, FAA registration number, a confirmation link and the UAS serial number if it was included in the registration form. Operators would need to have the certificate on hand while using the UAS in the event of an inspection.
- The FAA-issued registration number must be visible on the UAS.
While the recommendations are in, the final rules haven't yet been written. The FAA and DOT will consider the recommendations and about 1,800 public comments to come up with a final set of requirements, including materials to best educate the public about the registration, similar to the current on the Know Before You Fly campaign.
Earlier this month, the FAA released a statement assuring UAS owners that the system will be straightforward enough that they won't have to enlist and pay a third party "drone registration" company to submit their applications. That statement from the agency described the process as "similar to registering any newly purchased product with its manufacturer."
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The task force met in Washington, D.C., from Nov. 3 to Nov. 5 and was co-chaired by Earl Lawrence, director of the FAA's UAS Integration Office, and Dave Vos, head of Google X's drone delivery initiative Project Wing.
The 25-person task force included representatives from big name retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Amazon, drone manufacturers and startups like 3D Robotics, GoPro, DJI and Measure, and industry interest groups like the Consumer Electronics Association, Aerospace Industries Association and Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
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