Giving a drone this holiday season? Be sure to also wrap up some extra rotors, a spare battery or two, and get drone registration through the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), because the drone registration requirements that were declared dead earlier this year were just revived by the Trump administration.
A relative footnote in the National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law today, the new regulation requires that drone owners register their unmanned aerial vehicles before taking to the skies. You can register you new drone on the FAA’s drone Unmanned Aircraft System website.
But for longtime drone pilots, this requirement is nothing new. In December 2015, regulators began requiring drone registration, and the program took off, with 300,000 drone owners signing up within the first month.
Then, in May 2017, model aircraft hobbyists banded together to fight the federally mandated regulation (and its $5 fee) in the U.S. Court of Appeals. “For decades, AMA members have registered their aircraft with AMA and have followed our community-based safety programming,” said Academy of Model Aeronautics president Rich Hanson. “It is our belief that a community-based program works better than a federally mandated program to manage the recreational community.”
The FAA, for its part, disagreed. “The FAA put registration and operational regulations in place to ensure that drones are operated in a way that is safe and does not pose security and privacy threats,” the agency said in response to the appeals court ruling. And with good reason — the more drones that take to the skies, the more likely there are to be collisions with passenger planes.
And now enshrined in law, it would appear the FAA has the final word on the issue.
“We welcome the reinstatement of registration rules for all small unmanned aircraft,” the FAA said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Ownership identification helps promote safe and responsible drone operation and is a key component to full integration.”