I’m not always impressed with either the alacrity with which the Federal Government responds to changing circumstances or the wisdom of their responses when they get around to them.
Today, I’m impressed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on both counts.
The agency today announced the release, ahead of schedule, of a national drone registry along with a minimalist and understandable set of rules about how it will work. They even did a good job of figuring out how to get people to sign up for it sooner rather than later.
The new national registry will go online soon, prior to Christmas (smart!). It will require all owners of drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds (the drones, not the owners, heh heh) to register their devices online. They’ll pay $5 per drone which, strangely, is the same fee charged to register any other aircraft in the U.S. including Boeing 747s. Go figure.
When they register their drone, the newly minted aviators will be issued a tail number which they’ll be required to affix to their aircraft. In the future, failure to register the drone, apply the tail number or fly an unregistered drone will result in civil fines of up to $27,500 and criminal penalties of up to $250,000 and three years in prison.
But for now the FAA is focused on encouraging registration so it’s waiving the $5 fee for the first 30 days of operation of the site.
Existing drone owners have until Feb. 16 to register their aircraft while new ones purchased after Dec. 21 must be registered before they make their first aerial excursion.
An association of drone owners is predictably pissed that they should have to reveal their ownership and operation of these fun but potentially very dangerous “toys”. Funny. I don’t see “freedom to fly in airspace” mentioned anywhere in the freaking Constitution.