FAA Announces Official UAS Registration Process

  • Dec 14, 2015 10:01am GMT

Starting December 21, 2015, a new federal law will require operators of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the U.S. to register with the FAA to legally operate in the national airspace system.

The new process will be accomplished through a new online registry beginning Dec. 21. Current operators of UAS will have to register by February 19, 2016, and new operators will have to register before operating their UAS outside.

After registering, UAS operators will receive a certificate of registration which they must have on their possession when they fly in either paper or electronic form. The operator will also be issued a unique registration number (not to be confused with a full-scale N-number) which must be legibly marked on each of their UAS. Any location on the vehicle and method of marking can be used as long as the number can be readily seen without the use of tools.

There will be a legally required registration fee of $5, which the FAA says will pay for the costs of the registration system. But if operators register during the first 30 days (by January 20) the $5 fee will be reimbursed as an incentive to register sooner than later. The registration is good for three years.

This will affect most, but not all model aircraft operated by hobbyists and commercial businesses. All models with a takeoff weight of more than 0.55lbs (250g) that are operated outside will need to be registered. Models weighing 55lbs or more will not be eligible for the online registrations system and will have to use the current paper based system addressed here. Models flown indoors will not need to be registered.

This registration system implemented by the FAA is designed to encourage a culture of accountability and responsibility among UAS operators. They compare it to registering a car, where the vehicle is tied to a specific person. The FAA makes it clear that failing to register may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions with fines up to $25,000 and/or three years in prison.

That's the gist of it. For more information and to register your UAS visit: http://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/