15 Dec Drone Registration Rules Are Announced by F.A.A.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday announced new rules that will require nearly all owners of remote-controlled recreational drones to register the machines in a national database, an attempt by the agency to address safety fears.
Federal officials have rushed to issue new rules on drones before the holidays, when an estimated 700,000 new drones are expected to be bought. Drone owners will be required to submit their names, home addresses and email addresses to the F.A.A., disclosures meant to encourage users to be more responsible, officials said.
“Unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” Anthony Foxx, the secretary of the Transportation Department, said in a conference call. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
The federal rules are the first of their kind for users of recreational drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems. The prices for the machines have fallen sharply in recent years, making them popular tools for aerial photography and videography, among other uses.
In recent months, though, drones have been flown more frequently over parks, sports stadiums and backyards, and lawmakers and the public have grown more vocal about the need for new regulations.
The agency’s effort is limited by practical realities. A drone that collides with an aircraft would be destroyed, including the registration markings required by the new rules. And drone users who plan to use the machines for nefarious purposes may avoid registering at all.
“In practice, the F.A.A. doesn’t have the resources to police all illegal activity,” said Lisa Ellman, a partner at the Hogan Lovells law firm in Washington. “But the broader hope is that it will create a culture of accountability, and people will willingly participate.”
The F.A.A.’s registration rules, outlined in a 211-page document, generally follow recommendations submitted by a task force last month. The group included drone makers, aviation experts and hobbyist groups.
The rule applies to owners of drones weighing between half a pound and 55 pounds, and only American citizens will be allowed to register. The F.A.A. said it would introduce the website for registration, faa.gov/uas/registration, on Dec. 21; registering will be free for the first 30 days. After that period, the fee for each individual drone user will be $5 for a three-year certificate of registration.