FAA Drone Registration?

FAA Drone Registration?

The Federal Aviation Administration announced that effective December 21, 2015, anyone who owns a UAV/UAS of a certain weight must register with the FAA’s UAS registry before they fly outdoors. People who previously operated must register by February 19, 2016. Failure to register could result in civil and criminal penalties. However, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the largest body of aircraft modelers in the world on December 17, 2015 issued a contradictory statement (below) advising their +180k members not to register just yet. So what is the correct thing to do? This is the question everyone is asking. At this point in time there is not a single correct answer to this question and there will not be in the short-term. The safe integration and regulation of these UAS’s is going to take time and will need to clearly distinguish commercial activities from recreational activities as they differ  greatly in the manner they are conducted. A one size fits all approach will not be successful.

Thursday, December 17, 2015
Dear AMA Members,

Yesterday, the AMA Executive Council unanimously approved an action plan to relieve and further protect our members from unnecessary and burdensome regulations. This plan addresses the recently announced interim rule requiring federal registration of all model aircraft and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) weighing between 0.55 and 55 pounds.

AMA has long used a similar registration system with our members, which we pointed out during the task force deliberations and in private conversations with the FAA. As you are aware, AMA’s safety program instructs all members to place his or her AMA number or name and address on or within their model aircraft, effectively accomplishing the safety and accountability objectives of the interim rule. AMA has also argued that the new registration rule runs counter to Congress’ intent in Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, otherwise known as the “Special Rule for Model Aircraft.”

The Council is considering all legal and political remedies to address this issue. We believe that resolution to the unnecessary federal registration rule for our members rests with AMA’s petition before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. This petition, filed in August 2014, asks the court to review the FAA’s interpretation of the “Special Rule for Model Aircraft.” The central issue is whether the FAA has the authority to expand the definition of aircraft to include model aircraft; thus, allowing the agency to establish new standards and operating criteria to which model aircraft operators have never been subject to in the past.

In promulgating its interim rule for registration earlier this week, the FAA repeatedly stated that model aircraft are aircraft, despite the fact that litigation is pending on this very question. The Council believes the FAA’s reliance on its interpretation of Section 336 for legal authority to compel our members to register warrants the Court’s immediate attention to AMA’s petition.

While we continue to believe that registration makes sense at some threshold and for flyers operating outside of a community-based organization or flying for commercial purposes, we also strongly believe our members are not the problem and should not have to bear the burden of additional regulations.  Safety has been the cornerstone of our organization for 80 years and AMA’s members strive to be a part of the solution.

As we proceed with this process, we suggest AMA members hold off on registering their model aircraft with the FAA until advised by the AMA or until February 19, the FAA’s legal deadline for registering existing model aircraft.

Holding off on registration will allow AMA time to fully consider all possible options. On a parallel track, it also allows AMA to complete ongoing conversations with the FAA about how best to streamline the registration process for our members.

In the near future, we will also be asking our members to make their voices heard by submitting comments to the FAA’s interim rule on registration. We will follow-up soon with more detailed information on how to do this.

Thank you for your continued support of AMA. We will provide you with more updates as they become available.

Kind regards,

The AMA Executive Council

Bob Brown, AMA President
Gary Fitch, AMA Executive Vice President
Andy Argenio, AMA Vice President, District I
Eric Williams, AMA Vice President, District II
Mark Radcliff, AMA Vice President, District III
Jay Marsh, AMA Vice President, District IV
Kris Dixon, AMA Vice President, District V
Randy Cameron, AMA Vice President, District VI
Tim Jesky, AMA Vice President, District VII
Mark Johnston, AMA Vice President, District VIII
Jim Tiller, AMA Vice President, District IX
Lawrence Tougas, AMA Vice President, District X
Chuck Bower, AMA Vice President, District XI

https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/

Who must register a UAS?

The owner must be:

  • 13 years of age or older. (If the owner is less than 13 years of age, a person 13 years of age or older must register the small unmanned aircraft.)
  • A U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

Which unmanned aircraft do I have to register?

Owners must register their UAS online if it meets the following guidelines:

  • Weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg). Unmanned Aircraft weighing more than 55 lbs. cannot use this registration process and must register using the Aircraft Registry process.

See examples of UAS that do and do not require registration (PDF).

Owners must register their UAS by paper if it meets the following guidelines:

  • Your aircraft is used for commercial purposes.
  • Your aircraft is used for other than hobby and recreation.
  • Your aircraft is greater than 55 lbs.
  • You intend to operate your aircraft outside of the United States.

How do I register my UAS?

It costs only $5 to register your UAS and the process is simple and web-based. Registration is free for the first 30 days. Some things you’ll need before you get started:

  • An email address
  • Credit or Debit card
  • Physical address and mailing address (if different from physical address)

Your registration is valid for three years. Once you receive a registration number, you can use it on all of your unmanned aircraft if they meet the online registration criteria. You must mark the registration number on all aircraft you own. Read about How to Label Your UAS (PDF).

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