Drone Registration: What You Need to Know
You fought it off as best you could. Every time your kid would ask for a drone, you would change the subject, or the channel (“Hey, Spongebob is on!”). But there was no avoiding it. Your child was fixated on getting a drone for Christmas this year, and Santa finally caved and now one was just under your tree, unwrapped, and now you’re in the unenviable process of setting it up. Just don’t forget to register it. The Federal Aviation Administration is requiring all drones to be registered this year. The program started on December 21, and just two days after, 45,000 have registered aircraft, with another 400,000 expected to have been unwrapped yesterday morning. If you want to be within the letter of the law, here’s what you need to know. Who has to register drones? Anyone who has purchased a drone. If you bought it before December 21, you have until February 19 to register. If your drone weighs more than .55 or less than 55 pounds, it has to be registered online. Many $100 toy drones will be light enough where they won’t need to be registered. Meanwhile, the ones larger than 55 pounds will have to be registered via an older, paper-based method. RELATED: You Must Register Your Drone with the FAA by Dec 21
Why do drones need to be registered?
The problems presented by drones are numerous. There are privacy concerns, and there is high potential for a crashing drone to hit people, cars, pets, power lines, or even for one in the air to make contact with a plane, jet or helicopter. The moment you let one fly too high or out of your sight, the ways a drone can wreak havoc become obvious.
Where can I register?
Go to RegisterMyUAS.faa.gov. From there, you follow the instructions on the site. A $5 registration will have you covered for three years, but the FAA is waiving the fee for one month, so head over there soon! You’ll receive a certificate, which you’ll want to have on you whenever you are operating the drone. If you loan your drone to a friend, make sure they take the certificate with them. And you’ll have to put your registration number on your drone.
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What happens if I don’t?
Three years in the slammer or up to $250,000 in fines. This seems excessive, until the first drone-passenger jet run-in happens, then we’ll be saying its not enough. The FAA doesn’t have the resources to be enforcing this at first, so it will be relying on local law enforcement. So make sure you have the thing registered.
Where can I fly my registered drone?
Don’t fly near airports, stadiums, or generally near active aircraft or crowded public places. Other than that, stay under 400 feet, and never let the drone leave your line of sight.
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Can I shoot my neighbor’s drone down?
With the worry over privacy, and the propensity for humans to be humans, it should come as no surprise that this question comes up. But while your creepy neighbor might be trying to spy on your pool party, it is illegal to damage someone else’s drone in any way. That is because–as evidenced by this registration system–the government views these consumer drones as registered aircraft.
As federal law states “Whoever willfully sets fire to, damages, destroys, disables, or wrecks any aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States or any civil aircraft used, operated, or employed in interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce; shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years or both.”
So register your drone, stay safe, and fight the urge to throw rocks at ones that don’t belong to you!