Drone sales have exploded in recent years, with estimates of sales figures in the US alone in the region of 1.5 to 2 million units, according to the Motley Fool. From recreational racing and photography to commercial applications including land surveying and even crop spraying, these machines are proving to be entertaining, practical and game-changing in a variety of settings.
However, this trend is not without its problems. And in spite of the call for drones weighing over 0.55lbs (250g) to be registered with regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), just a fraction of buyers have actually taken steps to do so.
Complying with the regulatory requirements of drone ownership is important for private and commercial users alike, both in order to avoid legal issues and to ensure safety standards are maintained. So here is a quick overview as to how to register a drone in the USA which should be useful for current or prospective owners.
Firstly, it is worth noting that, as previously mentioned, only drones weighing over 0.55lbs need to be logged with the FAA’s National Drone Register. This ruling applies to drones, as well as all small unmanned aircraft including remote control planes and helicopters that exceed the minimum weight requirement.
Both civil and criminal penalties can be enforced against any owner who fails to comply, with fines of up to $250,000 applicable in the event that someone is caught flying an unregistered drone.
To register your drone, head to www.nationaldroneregister.com and select the relevant usage model; either personal or business. In both cases you will be required to provide your name, address, contact number, the make and model of the drone in question and the serial number supplied by the manufacturer.
The registration form is fairly simple, but also requires that those who complete it agree to adhere to the safety guidelines laid out by the FAA. These include committing to flying the drone below 400ft and within visual line of sight of the pilot at all times, while also meeting the regulator’s airspace requirements.
Flying directly over people, stadiums and sporting events, or anywhere in the vicinity of on-going emergencies, such as forest fires, is not permitted. Owners must also agree not to fly drones whilst under the influence of alcohol or any other intoxicating substances, in addition to keeping their drone away from airports and any other airborne craft.
Additional Commercial Requirements
When registering a drone for commercial use, there are some other requirements to consider, some of which relate to the pilot themselves. For example, a commercial drone pilot must be aged 16 or above; must hold a remote pilot airman certificate; and must pass any TSA vetting relevant to the intended deployment. The supervision of an experienced, certificated individual is also acceptable in cases where the pilot has yet to complete their training.
Ultimately, the registration process is not just about ensuring that the regulators have an idea as to how many drones are owned and operated in the US. It is also intended to provide pilots with legal information and safety guidelines, ensuring that they fly in a responsible manner.