FAA Passes Drone Registration Requirements before X-Mas Rush
Americans receiving a drone as a Christmas gift this year will be required to register the unmanned aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration after the agency quietly passed new ruled governing drones earlier this week. The rules are in response to growing safety concerns as more and more drones are used across the country and a number of accidents involving remote controlled aircraft are reported. Insiders estimate that some 700,000 drones will be purchased during the holiday shopping period, prompting regulators to act quickly to establish a database of drone operators. Drone owners will be required to submit their name, home address and email address to the FAA, in an initiative that regulators hope will make drone owners fly more responsibly.
The move to require drone owners to register has received abundant criticism from insiders, who claim that anybody with nefarious plans for their drone would just avoid registering. Drones that have an accidental collision with an aircraft, meanwhile, would likely be destroyed, including any distinguishing remarks that investigators would use to match the craft with its owner. Supporters argue that the new rules are not designed to allow the FAA to police all drone flights, but to create a culture of responsibility among recreational drone pilots. This culture, supporters assert, will help avoid hundreds of accidental collisions a year as drone use continues to spread. The rules were outlined in a 211 page document released Monday.
The new FAA rules regarding drone use specify that owners of a drone weighing from half a pound to 55 pounds must register, though only registrations from American users will be allowed. The database for registered drone users will be activated on December 21st, along with the registration website: faa.gov/uas/registration. Those who register in the first thirty days, the agency said, will be allowed to do so for free. After January 20, 2016; a $5 fee will be charged for a 3-year registration. Existing drone owners, or those who owned their craft before December 21st, will be given until February 19,2016 to register. Anybody purchasing a drone after that date, meanwhile, will be required to complete the registration before their first flight. Failure to comply with registration requirements could lead to criminal penalties of up to $27,000 in fines and up to three years in federal prison. The FAA already had a few rules in place governing drone use, prohibiting nighttime flight, flight above 400 feet or within 5 miles of an airport.