Santa may be bringing upwards of a million drones this Christmas season, but he forgot to check his list twice with the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA announced Monday, Dec. 14, that all small unmanned aircraft (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds must be registered.
“Make no mistake – unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”
Existing UAS owners must register no later than Feb. 19, 2016. Anyone purchasing a drone after Dec. 21, 2015, must register before their first outdoor flight. Operators will receive a unique identification number, valid for three years, that must be marked on the drone.
Operators who fail to register could get hit with some pretty stiff penalties, including civil penalties of up to $27,500 and criminal penalties up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to three year.
“We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season,” says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “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.”
Registration is free for the first 30 days beginning Dec. 21 and $5 after that. Visit www.faa.gov/uas/registration for more information.