Coddington, Hicks & Danforth

FAA requires drone registration, once again

On December 13, 2017, President Trump signed a bill that reinstated the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) drone registry requirement. As a part of the National Defense Authorization Act, if you own a drone weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds, you'll now need to register your aircraft.

The FAA estimates that there will be 2.3 million drones sold this year. With that increase in aircraft, they seek to deploy more strict regulatory measures. The registration rule, however, has found itself on shaky legal ground in the past.

A complicated legal history

As drones surged in popularity in the early 2010s, the FAA took note of the dramatic rise in unmanned aircraft in the skies. In December of 2015, they required that all drones weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds be registered at a fee of $5. The parameters meant that nearly every drone that was not a small toy had to enter the registry.

Drone hobbyists opposed the policy, and in early 2017 the registration rule was struck down in federal appeals court. The hobbyists argued that drones technically qualify as model aircraft. Previously in 2012, Congress passed a law that the FAA was not allowed place new regulations on drones.

Drone manufacturers and aviation organizations greeted the decision with mixed reviews. Some believed that registration would increase accountability and deter recklessness. The FAA continued to fight for the rule.

What does drone registration mean for you?

If your drone falls within the requirements, it will need to be registered with the FAA. You can do this online at the unchanged cost of $5, and you'll need to keep your registration certificate with you whenever you fly your drone.

The penalties for failing to register your drone can be steep. Skirting the registration process can land you civil penalties of up to $27,500. You would also have the possibility of criminal penalties, which could be as much as $250,000 in fines or up to three years imprisonment.

How will the drone registration's return impact overall airspace safety? Only time will tell.

What do you think of the FAA's drone registry reinstatement?

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