FAA Opens Drone Registry to Commercial Users

WASHINGTON—The Federal Aviation Administration has opened up its drone registry for commercial users. As of March 31, the Web-based registry will be open to owners of small unmanned aircraft systems used for commercial, public and other non-model aircraft operations. Up until now, commercial drone users had to register had to use the FAA’s legacy registration system in Oklahoma City. The FAA said the Web-based process will speed up the process for commercial and public users. Registration is $5, the same fee that model aircraft owners pay.

“Registration is an important tool to help us educate aircraft owners and safely integrate this exciting new technology into the same airspace as other aircraft operations,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Anyone using a drone for purposes other than as model aircraft must currently obtain a 333 exemption, a public certificate of authorization or other FAA authorization to legally operate, in addition to registering their aircraft.

The FAA said that those owners who already have registered in the legacy system do not have to re-register in the new system. However, the FAA is encouraging new owners who are registering for the first time to use the new, Web-based registration system. Owners who register under the new system can access the records for all of the aircraft they have registered by logging into their online account. Small UAS owners who have registered under the Web-based system who intend to use their aircraft for purposes other than as model aircraft will also need to re-register to provide aircraft specific information.

The FAA first opened up the Web-based registration for model unmanned aircraft owners on Dec. 21, 2015. The agency is expanding that existing Website to accommodate owners of aircraft used for commercial purposes. This registration process includes additional information on the manufacturer, model and serial number, in addition to the owner’s physical and email addresses. Like the model aircraft registration process, a certificate is good for three years, but each certificate covers only one aircraft.