If you are a proud American drone owner — or are one of the thousands of Americans who’ll purchase one this holiday season — the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants to know about it. And the agency has finally set a deadline.
Starting December 21, the FAA wants US citizens to register any small, remote, aerial vehicle that weighs between 0.55 and 25kg with the government. It will cost $US5, but that fee will be waived during the first 30 days. Each registration is good for three years.
When’s the deadline? If they got the drone before December 21, they have until 19 February 2016 to complete registration. But weirdly, if they will get their drone after December 21, they’ll need to register before they take their UAV out for its first outdoor flight.
“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in the FAA press release announcing the deadline. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
The call for registration comes at a time when civilian drone use seems more complicated than ever. A recent study from Bard University found that there were over 300 “near-misses” between drones and piloted aircraft in the US in 2015. And one YouTuber recently outfitted his drone with a flamethrower and posted footage of it incinerating a turkey on a spit.
Over 400,000 drones are expected to be sold this holiday season in the US, so the FAA is going to have its work cut out for it — both in terms of wrangling registrations, and in nailing down clearer rules for hobbyists.