Congratulations on your purchase of a drone — or maybe you’ll be one of the hundreds of thousands of people expected to get one as a gift this holiday season.
You’ll be joining the “look what this thing can do” club, one that’s been growing exponentially each year. Good for you! But, most likely, you’re also going to join the “I need to register this thing?” club.
The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force Aviation Rulemaking Committee (say that three times fast) released its final report on Saturday.
In the report, the task force laid out recommendations for a Federal Aviation Administration registration process and the nitty gritty of how that should work.
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And before you think “well, I just bought the cheap one,” and don’t check to see if you have to the spend the 10 minutes or so registering your drone online, check this out: The task force calls for anything over 250 grams and under 55 pounds to be registered.
For those non-sciency folks, that’s about .55 pounds. So even that Black Friday Special quadcopter sitting under the tree could be over the limit.
Why 250 grams? The task force did the math and concluded anything over 250 grams could cause damage to unsuspecting park goers.
The task force recommends that the pilot (13 or older) be registered, not each individual drone.
So if you splurged and bought that Black Friday special, or five, you only have to register once. And all you have to register is your name and street address on the free web-based form.
The FAA would send your certificate electronically, and you would have to be able to produce it when flying that drone.
Also, you would have to either affix a new fancy FAA registration number to your quadcopter or enter the drone’s manufacturer’s number when you register.
The task force is being cool about it, saying it would be OK to put the number inside a battery compartment that’s “readily accessible” (no tools involved). They want to protect that paint job as much as you do.
Even though the FAA hasn’t ruled on any of these recommendations yet, be prepared for the very real possibility of having to register. The agency says it will study the recommendations and draft new rules as soon as possible.