WASHINGTON – The Federal Aviation Administration has announced its aircraft registration process for unmanned aerial systems weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) including payloads.
“This action provides an alternative, streamlined and simple, Web-based aircraft registration process for the registration of small unmanned aircraft, including small unmanned aircraft operated as model aircraft, to facilitate compliance with the statutory requirement that all aircraft register prior to operation, ” the 211-page Interim Final Rule stated. The registration rule technically goes into effect Dec. 21, with the FAA accepting comments on it until 30 days out from publication in the Federal Register on Docket No. FAA-2015-7396.
The process incorporates many of the recommendations of the FAA’ s Drone Registration Task Force, delivered to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Nov. 21.
“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” Foxx said. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
Registration will be a statutory requirement for all aircraft. Under this rule, any owner of a small UAS who previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to Dec. 21, 2015, must register no later than Feb. 19, 2016. Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after Dec. 21, 2015 must register before the first flight outdoors. Owners may use either the paper-based process or the new streamlined, Web-based system. Those registering online must be at least 13 years old.
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 in an effort to encourage as many people as possible to register quickly, the FAA is waiving this fee for the first 30 days from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016.
“We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season,” Huerta said. “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 online registration system now supports only hobby and recreation drones, the FAA said. The agency said it is “developing enhancements” to incude drones used for commercial purposes by the spring of 2016.