Nearly 300,000 owners have registered their small drones in the first 30 days since the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) online registration system went live.
The FAA says about 45,000 people registered in the first two days the system went live, but that there remains a “steady stream of daily registrations.”
It’s important to note this doesn’t mean 300,000 drones have been registered. 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, so chances are there’s a lot more than 300,000 drones buzzing around with approved identification numbers on them.
“I am pleased the public responded to our call to register,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “The National Airspace System is a great resource and all users of it, including [Unmanned Aircraft Systems] users, are responsible for keeping it safe.”
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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.
“The registration numbers we’re seeing so far are very encouraging,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We’re working hard to build on this early momentum and ensure everyone understands the registration requirement.”
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.
Taylor requested an emergency stay of the FAA’s registration requirement, but that request was denied by the Court of Appeals on December 24, stating that Taylor “has not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay pending court review.” The case will now proceed according to a schedule issued by the Court, with the next filing deadline January 27.