Friday, December 18, 2015

Register that Christmas Gift Drone!

Driven by public safety concerns over the number of recreational drones being sold for Christmas, on December 14, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a rule  targeted for  owners and operators of hobby and recreational small unmanned aircraft systems (“sUAS” a/k/a drones) that mandates registration on the FAA’s new online drone registration portal. The FAA Interim Final Rule (IFR) is available @ and The FAA’s drone registration portal is available @  Another more comprehensive drone rule is expected in 2016 to allow the use of drones for limited commercial purposes provided the risk to public safety is low. The hobby drone rule, which goes into effect on December 21, 2015 ahead of the holiday rush, requires all hobby-type drones weighing between 0.55 pounds) and 55 pounds that have flown prior to December 21, 2015 to be registered no later than February 19, 2016.   Model radio-controlled aircraft of all types, including the type of fixed wing, radio-controlled model aircraft used for decades fall within the rule. For hobby drones in this weight class flying on or after December 21, 2015 (Christmas gifts), the rule requires that the owner register the drone before its first flight. To prod registration, the $5.00 registration fee will be credited back to owners if they register within the first 30 days. The rule further provides that a single registration applies to as many drones as an owner owns or operates. However, the rule provides stiff civil penalties up to $27,500, and criminal penalties including fines up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years. U.S. citizens age 13 or older can register their drones at the FAA’s registration portal. The registrant will need to provide the FAA with their name, physical address, mailing address and email address. The FAA will then provide the certificate holder, with a unique registration number that must be affixed to each drone. In addition, each registration must be renewed every 3 years and will require an additional $5.00 renewal fee. All operators of hobby drones falling within the weight limits of the rule must carry proof of registration in the form of a Certificate of Aircraft Registration either in printed or electronic form