More than 325,000 people in the United States have registered drones, according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and that’s more than all of the country’s aircraft that carry people.
Speaking at a drone conference at K&L Gates law firm, FAA administrator Michael Huerta said there currently are 320,000 occupied aircraft, including everything from a Cessna 172 to a Boeing 777, that are registered with the FAA.
Huerta added that registered drone operators own an average of 1.5 drones, so the number of registered drones is much higher. Remember, drone registration is tied to the operator, not the drone. After you register, you’re given an identification number that needs to be affixed to all of your drones.
“We’re very encouraged by the registration numbers we’ve seen so far,” Huerta said. “Safety is at the heart of this new registration system. We need to bring the unmanned aircraft enthusiasts into the culture that has characterized aviation throughout its history – that is a culture of safety and a culture of responsibility.”
The FAA set a deadline of Feb. 19 to register previously owned drones, and new drones need to be registered before the first flight. According to the FAA, nearly 300,000 owners registered in the first 30 days, with 45,000 of those coming two days after the system launched.
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The FAA is requiring registration for drones that weigh between 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and 55 pounds (25 kilograms). For those who already owned a drone before the registration site went live on Dec. 21, 2015, you need to register by Feb. 19, 2016. Anyone who becomes a first-time drone owner after Dec. 21, 2015 must register before their first flight outdoors. Registration will now cost $5 and is valid for three years.
Failure to register a drone can result in civil penalties up to $27,500, and criminal penalties for failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000. To register, you’ll need to provide your name, home address and e-mail address.
Less than a month after the registry went live, John Taylor, an insurance lawyer and drone hobbyist who lives in Maryland, sued the FAA over the legality of the registry, arguing the FAA directly violated a key legal clause in the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act. Taylor alleges that Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 specifically prohibits the FAA from promulgating any new rules or regulations regarding model aircraft if they’re flown for hobby or recreational purposes.