December 14th, 2015
March 10th, 2014
The Federal Aviation Administration announced today that anyone who owns a drone weighing between .55 and 55 pounds will have to register their aircraft with the government—provided they’re not using it for business purposes.
According to the FAA, registrants will need to provide their name, home address and e-mail address. When they’ve registered, they’ll receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAV owner—an ID which must be marked on the aircraft.
The registration is valid for three years.
The FAA will charge drone owners $5 to register but will waive the fee during the first 30 days of registration (from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016) to encourage people to sign up. Online drone registration is available here.
If you own a UAV for business purposes, sit tight. The FAA says the online registration system is only for hobbyists. A registration system targeting the business use of drones is expected to go live in the Spring of 2016.
“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement announcing the new rules. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
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A federal administrative court judge has determined that drones–aka unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs–can be used for commercial purposes because the Federal Aviation Administration has no regulations on the books that prohibit such uses.
Vice.com reported that the judge made the ruling last week in a case involving a photographer who had appealed a $10,000 fine for using a drone to shoot a video commercial, allegedly in violation of FAA rules.
The FAA immediately appealed, explaining in a statement that it “is concerned that this decision could impact the safe operation of the national airspace system and the safety of people and property on the ground.”
The FAA had fined photographer Raphael Pirker for unauthorized commercial use of a drone in 2011, after Pirker had used a remotely-controlled aircraft to produce a video commercial for the University of Virginia. Pirker had piloted the aircraft in the vicinity of the university, located in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Pirker, owner of UAV video production company Team Black Sheep, won his appeal of the fine on the grounds that a drone is in the same class of aircraft as model airplanes, which the FAA has never regulated. (The FAA has asked model airplane operators to fly the planes under 400 feet, and to stay away from airports, but those rules are strictly voluntary.)
The administrative court ruling means that photographers can use drones for commercial purposes, at least for now. But with the FAA opposed to unregulated use of drone aircraft in the US, it’s a safe bet that the agency will try to impose new administrative rules–or seek legislation–to restrict the use of drones in the near future.
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