Washington, DC – Today the FAA (with parent, DOT) announced the details of the drone registration process it had announced it would have in place before the Christmas holiday. Not only are drones now subject to registration, but any RC aircraft that weighs between 0.55 to 55 pounds needs to be registered as well. According to the FAA, pilots who fail to register their aircraft could face civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal penalties up to $250,000 and three years of jail time.
Each pilot will have a registration number that they will need to affix to each aircraft they operate, as opposed to registering each aircraft. That makes life bearable for folks who build their own aircraft (like the author), and are constantly changing and tweaking parts on a given aircraft. The registration process is allegedly very simple and straightforward. All a pilot needs to do is head over to: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/ on or after December 21, 2015 and sign up. You’ll need to provide some basic info and a credit card. Yes, it’s going to cost you $5 to register, just like the folks who go through the paper process to register real, full-size aircraft. Upon completion of the registration process you will receive a certificate that you’ll need to keep with you at all times while operating an aircraft, and a registration number to affix to all of your aircraft. UPDATE 12-18-2015: The FAA has confirmed that registration information will be publicly available, even in the registrant is a minor (Source)!
The FAA states that the registration process will help provide accountability for all of the rouge drone operators out there, in hopes of reducing the number of alleged ‘close calls’ between drones and manned aircraft. The author isn’t exactly sure how the FFA believes this will work, unless law enforcement is able to recover a suspect drone. By the time law enforcement is notified and able to respond, the suspect drone would have sufficient time to land and flee the scene. Furthermore, a would-be evil doer with a drone probably will not take the time to register their drone prior to doing their evil. The adage “laws only keep the honest people honest” comes to mind.
Please be smart, and think about when and where you fly your drones and aircraft. If you’re new to the hobby; welcome to one of the most amazing and enjoyable hobbies out there. Please educate yourself before you take off for the first time- visit Know before you fly.
The FAA has published a Q and A page, which will hopefully answer any questions you may have about registration.