Incidents involving drones have been making headlines lately. The common incidents usually involve peeping toms, and the wildest so far involves criminals mounting remote guns on drones.
These are just some of the reasons why the FAA requires certain drones to be registered. So, does your drone need to be registered before it takes to the skies?
The answer to this question depends on a wide range of factors. Here is an overview of everything you need to know about drone registration.
Do I Need to Register My Drone?
Yes, you should register your drone. You will not get into trouble for failing to register your small toy helicopter drone, but it’s best to be careful.
The base requirement for registering a drone is that any drone that weights 0.55 lbs or more should be registered. This is bigger than your average toy drone, so mini drones likely don’t need to be registered.
You must also register your drone if you are planning on using it in public airspace (regulated airspace) or for commercial purposes.
In addition to registering with the FAA, you will also be required to display your drone’s registration number visibly on your drone. You will also be required to make a formal request with the LAANC every time you want to fly in controlled airspace.
It is important to identify controlled airspaces – many parts of public spaces have been designated as controlled airspaces since incidents involving drones started rising.
Another important part of drone registration is licensing. The FAA requires anyone flying the drone in public airspace or for commercial purposes be trained and licensed first. Anything that requires you to be paid for flying the drone – including selling footage – qualifies as a commercial activity.
Licensing is necessary under section 107 of the commercial drone system. The exact type of reason necessary depends on the purpose intended. For example, a drone operator working for the military requires a much advanced license than one taking video footage.
You will be required to take drone flying lessons – and a drone flying test – before you can qualify for a commercial license.
How to Register Your Drone
The FAA is very strict about drone registration. However, the registration process isn’t as bad as it may sound, considering all the emphasis. In fact, anyone can do it online from the comfort of their home.
The only requirement for registering is that you should be at least 13 years old. You will also need a working credit card, as you have to pay a fee of at least $5 – the exact number depends on the type of drone and intended purpose, among other factors.
With this set, you only need to visit the FAA website and follow the registration process – it is safe and quick, and the prompts are easy to fill.
One of the most notable aspects of the registration process is that you will be required to share some of your personal information. These will include your name and physical address, among other ID details. These details are necessary for tracking you down for any reason – that and the drone registration number.
Why Register Your Drone?
Drones were made to be fun toys, or tools for people like photographers or even government use. However, people have been using them for mischief and others for out-right criminal activity.
For example, people who fly their drones into airport airspaces put the lives of people in airplanes at risk. Drones have also been used for other criminal activities, including spying on others.
The main reason for drone registration is to enforce order and regulation, as is the case with vehicles. Registration makes it easier for the FAA to regulate drone flying activities, which mostly involves stopping criminal activity. It also makes for a great deterrent to anyone who may be tempted to cause mischief or crime, as they realize that the authorities can track them down.
For you, the best reason to register your drone would be to avoid the set consequences for breaking the law. You could be liable for substantial fines and even incarceration for failure to comply with FAA regulations.
The punishment depends on your crime – for example, a joyride in the park will warrant a small fine, while compromising the integrity of an airport’s airspace will likely land you in jail.
Keep Up with the Regulations
There were no regulations about how and where you can fly your drone when they first became commercially available for public use. However, the FAA has had to intervene because of the aforementioned incidents.
Additionally, the regulations have been getting stricter and more detailed over time – as people come up with more creative and mischievous uses for their drones.
FAA’s drone regulations will continue getting stricter and more detailed over time and as people get more creative. As such, it is important to keep up with the changes to avoid the consequences, which will also become stricter over time.
A Little Responsibility Goes a Long Way
The main reason why the FAA and other authorities around the world have been regulating drone usage is because of willful abuse by users, as mentioned. It may become so bad that the authorities may consider banning drone usage in public places.
However, drone users can prevent this and create a much more conducive environment by practicing responsible drone flying practices.
The first part of responsible drone flying is training and licensing. The training will equip you with the skills you need to fly your drone safely and in accordance with the law. You will also need self-discipline to avoid the temptation of exploiting your drone.
Drones are fun. However, they can also be used for a wide range of criminal activities – some that can put lives in danger – as has been proven severally by headline-making incidents.
This is why the FAA requires that certain drones be registered – and, as highlighted, you may also need licensing and permits to fly some drones.
The consequences of failing to register your drone are also real, and they range from small fines to serious prison-time. As such, register your drone and abide by the rules and regulations. Most importantly, ensure that you practice responsible flying.