Technology has made the possibility of drones very real in today’s world. Drones are being manufactured left, right, and center to cater to a variety of needs. A myriad of sectors ranging from business to postal services to research companies are making use of robotic aircraft.
Now you see these devices performing functions such aerial photography, delivering mail, shipping, geographic mapping, safety inspection, and fighting wildfires, which are just a few of the areas that have increased in efficiency. There are also hobbyists who get drones for the fun of it.
So now, you may be wondering if and what drones need to be registered with the FAA.
What to Register
As of December 21, 2015, the FAA demands the registration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The requirement is for any UAS that weighs more than 0.55 pounds (250g) and less than 55 pounds or 25kg. Note that these figures are for the total weight of the device on takeoff.
If you are flying the GHOSTDRONE 2.0 Aerial for your nature photography outdoors, you have to register it first. Manufacturers usually provide the measurements of a product when selling, so it is easy to get the right weight. Alternatively, you can just put your drone on a scale to find out. Registration applies to remote or tethered UASs, whether store-bought or home-made.
This move is for the purpose of security. There have been concerns that the increased use of UAS presents new challenges and threats. By registering a device, a drone owner can learn about the airspace regulations for the sake of safe flying and accountability.
You also agree to the terms of services that the FAA sets for pilots flying in the US airspace. Whether you are flying from the ground up, on a private or public property, there are rules to abide by. The FAA classifies a UAS as any device that functions by way of a ground-control system.
If you drone is for recreation purposes, then you are a non-commercial pilot, and some rules apply to that class as well. For example, the safety guidelines place restrictions on the operation of a recreational drone to below 400 ft. Your DJI Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter 4K must also be within sight of the operator, in addition to staying 5 miles away from airfields or airports that don’t have prior notification from the FAA.
How To Register
The process of registering your new quadcopter is not very complicated. In fact, the FAA provides an online portal where you can fill the necessary details in a matter of minutes. An individual who needs to register is anyone who is 13 years or older, is a US citizen, and uses their robotic aircraft for recreational or hobby purposes.
Details that the FAA require from you include full name, email, and physical and mailing address. Your email will serve as the log-in when using the online registration portal. There is a fee of $5 that you will have to pay via credit card. Every three years you will have to pay another $5.
The FAA explains that this fee is for the creation, maintenance, and improvident of the registry. An important detail to note is that you are actually the one registering, not the drone. You get a number after registration, which goes on your aircraft. Therefore, if you have more than one device, you can use the same registration number on all of them.
There is no need for registration of each device. It also makes it less complicated to transfer ownership in case you sell your drone because you only need to remove the number.
Failure to Comply
It may seem harmless to keep flying your AEE Technology AP10 Pro GPS Drone Quadcopter without registration because you are doing it in your back yard but it is not. Doing that may cost you up to $27,500 in civil fines and $250,000 and/or a three-year imprisonment for criminal penalties. The risk of getting penalized varies depending on what you do with your drone. For instance, if yours is for recreation and only use it in your backyard, then you only have to worry about the civil charges. On the other hand, a company that uses unmanned aircraft for services is a whole different matter.
Registration of a drone comes with some privacy terms, which state that only the FAA has access to the information you provide. However, there have been speculations that the registration database will be searchable by numbers; hence, making it possible to find the owner of a drone that is found missing.
Drone technology has revolutionized a lot of industries and has been an excellent addition to the explorer’s arsenal. The options out there are more than enough, and you can settle for anything that suits your fancy.
However, don’t make the mistake of operating your unmanned robotic aircraft without registration. A few minutes online and a $5 fee will have you flying the streets with your new toy.