WASHINGTON, Dec. 14 (UPI) — Civilians operating most types of recreational drones must register the devices by Feb. 19 under new rules announced Monday by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Owners of “small unmanned aircraft,” weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds and suitable for onboard cameras and other recreational uses, must register with the FAA starting Dec. 21 either through a paper process or online. The FAA is waiving a $5 registration fee for the first 30 days, from Dec. 21 to Jan. 20, to encourage quick registration.
“Make no mistake: Unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility. 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,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a statement.
The registration process involves providing the FAA the drone owner’s name, home address and email address. Registrants must be over 13 years old. The FAA will provide an identification number to be displayed on the aircraft.
The rollout of the registration process comes after an investigation by the FAA to encourage the rapid growth of drones in private hands without endangering manned aircraft.
The amateur drone market in the United States has grown quickly, and with it concerns from pilots, lawmakers and the public that some drone flights could cause a hazard to manned aircraft, fans attending stadium events and wildfire containment.
“We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta in a statement. “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.”