The drone decision


Drone in Flight
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Beginning Dec. 21, anyone who uses a drone will need to register their device with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This decision is in response to the rapid influx of drones within civilian hands that are used for a variety of purposes, including aerial photography, scouting or just plain fun. Although the FAA debated whether drones used by the public – and not the government – were mere toys or actual mini-airplanes, the underlying factor was that the actual number of these unmanned aerial devices wasn’t being tracked. And some were being used in an unethical manner. While some western states have already placed restrictions on the devices, such as drone-use for hunting purposes, the FAA decided to pull the matter under the federal umbrella.

"Unmanned aircraft operators are aviators and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility," says Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

New drone registration rules were revealed on Monday and affect anyone who is operating a drone between 0.55 lb and 55 lb. It will cost $5 to register your drone and anyone 13 and older can register themselves as a drone user. You will be required to provide your name and address during the process. The government will issue a registration number that drone operators will then be required to display on their entire fleet.

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Michael Whitaker, who serves as FAA Deputy Administrator, told NPR that the biggest obstacle that they face is communicating that drone fliers are just as responsible for flying in the country’s airspace as regular airplanes and helicopters. He says: 

"For decades, the only people who had access to our airspace were highly trained pilots who came from a culture where safety was deeply embedded. (...) Thousands upon thousands of brand-new users are starting to fly. And while we are confident that the vast majority of these people care about safety and want to operate safely, the reality is most have little to no aviation experience. So our challenge is to educate these new aviators that as soon as they start flying, they're pilots. They have the responsibility to fly safely and there are rules and regulations that apply to them."

So, hunters, please make sure to register your drone, beginning Dec. 21. For the first 30 days, the FAA is waiving the $5 fee. While the current focus is to spread the word about the new registration requirement, because this is a new law, those who do not comply can face civil penalties up to $27,500 and criminal penalties up to $250,000 as well as three years in prison.

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