In previous blogs dealing with the legality of drones at weddings, we talked about the constantly evolving nature of drone law. Today we see some big changes arriving which will affect all commercial drone operators.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a web-based registration process for owners of small unmanned aircraft (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms). This includes camera weight.

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

Registration will be a requirement that applies to all aircraft that meet the above weight requirements. Under the rule, drone owners who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to December 21, 2015, must register no later than February 19, 2016. New owners who purchased drones after December 21, 2015 must register before they make their maiden flight.

Owners may register through a web-based system at www.faa.gov/uas/registration

Once registration is complete, the system generates a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be shown clearly on the drone itself.

If there’s good news here, it’s that the registration is valid for three years and covers multiple drones for those that own more than one. In other good news, the fee is only $5 – and free until the first month of 2016. Clearly the FAA are hoping that with hundreds of drones being purchased over Christmas, they will be able to get the jump on the bulk of new owners, who can be educated to understand the scope of their responsibilities.

The full rule can be viewed here:www.faa.gov/news/updates/media/20151213_IFR.pdf

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