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    Drones Update: FAA Announces Mandatory Registration


    By Greg Webb, December 18, 2015

    On December 14th, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that all operators of unmanned aircraft must register their drones, or UASs (unmanned aerial systems), by February 10, 2016. The registration is required for aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds. The FAA has set up a ‘user-friendly’ web-based registration system and as an incentive from December 21, 2015 to January 20, 2016 the $5 registration fee will be waived.

    Over 400,000 drones were expected to be sold this past Christmas.  If you received one (or bought yourself one for Christmas), you have to register it or face potential criminal charges that, if convicted, could get you 3 years in prison and up to a $250,000 in fines.  Once registered, you should not fly it above 400 feet or fly it near an airport or a stadium, among other rules.

    “Registration is a statutory requirement that applies to all aircraft. Under this rule, any owner of a small UAS who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to December 21, 2015, must register no later than February 19, 2016. Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after December 21, 2015 must register before the first flight outdoors. Owners may use either the paper-based process or the new streamlined, web-based system. Owners using the new streamlined web-based system must be at least 13 years old to register.”

    In the press release, FAA Administrator Huerta stated that they expect hundreds of thousands of drones to be purchased over the holidays. Amazon is selling drones ranging from $599 to $3000. They are the new ‘in’ toy this year. Huerta went on to say, “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.” (, 12/14/15)  As U.S. Transportation Secretary Fox stated, “unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility.”   The registration process allows the FAA, in theory, the opportunity educate users about UAS safety.

    There will be private businesses that will also see to educate and train new drone users.  For example, Brent Klavon runs Aviation System Engineering Company, a business providing ‘manned and unmanned systems solutions.’ He will be holding two special events, on December 18, 2015 and January 5, 2016, in Jacksonville, FL to help with drone registration. Klavon told Forbes, “This is a population that knows nothing about aviation, FAA rules or operating in the national airspace system. The word is slowly getting out but it will take this outreach to registrants to make that education happen.”

    For more information about drones, unmanned aerial systems, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), please click on the below:

    Drones in the US

    Problems with recreational drone use.