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December 14, 2015Client Alert

Drones: Recreational/Hobby Owners Web-based Registration Process

Today, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the passage of its interim final rule providing for a web-based registration process for recreational and hobby owners of small unmanned aircraft (UAS’s) operating in the national airspace system and weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms) including all payloads such as cameras. The FAA determined that the current paper-based process is too onerous for both recreational and hobby UAS owners and the FAA. Thus, they developed the web-based process as an alternative for recreational and hobby UAS owners.

Some of the highlights of the new registration requirement rule are:

  • Recreational and hobby owners of UAS’s that have never been operated in the national airspace must register their UAS prior to operation in the national airspace (i.e. the first flight outdoors). This requirement becomes effective on December 21, 2015.
  • Recreational and hobby owners of UAS’s that have been operated in the national airspace prior to December 21, 2015 must register by February 19, 2016.
  • You must be 13 years of age or older to use this process to register. If the owner is less than 13 then a parent or other responsible person must do the registration.
  • The registrant will receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration and a registration number. This will apply to all UAS’s owned by that registrant.
  • All UAS’s must be marked with the FAA-issued registration number.
  • The registration will be valid for three years.
  • The normal registration fee is five dollars, but in an effort to encourage as much participation as possible, the FAA is waiving the fee from December 21, 2015 to January 20, 2016.
  • Again, the web-based registration system does not yet support registration of UAS’s used for any purpose other than recreational and hobby in the national airspace – i.e. it does not apply for a UAS used in a business (which must use the existing paper system). The FAA is said to be developing enhancements to the web-based system that will allow those registrations by the Spring of 2016.
  • Owners may register at www.faa.gov/uas/registration
  • Failure to register as required can result in civil and criminal penalties.
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