Drones or quadcopters have been around for quite some time. They have become widely used in many fields around the world. Agriculture, mapping, archaeologist, journalism, photography monitoring, search and rescue are some of the fields that have seen the use of quadcopters.
Businesses, both small and large have invested in non-military drones with the purpose of improving their enterprises in their respective fields. Over the years, having a drone has become more than a fad. Even in the past holidays, many people have received one under their Christmas tree.
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So, do drones have to be registered? Before heading out with your new quadcopter and trying it out, you need to have it registered. As of December 21st 2015, the FAA requested every individual having a quadcopter or the desire to fly one, to have it registered.
FAA made the request regarding unmanned aerial systems that weigh more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilos). The term unmanned aerial system was coined and used by the FAA referring to drones or quadcopters.
This rule stemmed from the concern that drones pose new security and privacy challenges. The registration will be able to provide new and current users with the opportunity to learn and adhere to airspace rules before they begin to fly. This has also been done in order to reinforce every drone user to operate the craft safely, as well as develop a culture of accountability and responsibility.
Between December 21st 2015 and January 20th 2016, users were able to register for free as the FAA had waived the $5 required for registration.
a. Users need to be at least 13 years old and above in order to register. One should also be a US citizen.
b. A registration fee of $5 is required, which remains in effect for three years.
c. If you purchase or are gifted with a drone, you need to register it before you begin your first flight.
d. You have to register directly with the FAA.
e. Registration is mandatory for anyone residing in the US.
f. You will have to provide the following information – your name, home address, email address, make and model of your quadcopter. A proof of ownership will be generated, which includes a unique identifier that will help to mark your drone.
A certificate of registration will be issued after completing the registration, which can be printed or saved in the phone. The unique identifier should be displayed legibly on the drone. When requested, the owner should be able to display the certificate when flying their drone outdoors.
If the user owns multiple drones, the FAA will allow the use of the same unique identifier for all drones. Finally, the user must renew their registration after 3 years.
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Step One – Visit the FAA website
You need to visit the FAA website in order to begin the registration process. Open your favorite browser and search for FAA. You can also type http://www.faa.gov/ into the browser address bar and press return. This should direct you to the website.
Step Two – Getting started
You should find a link for unmanned aerial systems on the homepage. Once you click on it, you will be redirected to another page. Here, you can click on getting started to familiarize yourself with any new information regarding the registration process. There are other useful links you should look at namely beyond the basics, where to fly, FAQs, and resources among others.
Step Three – Registration
Begin by creating an account.To do this, you need to input your name, home address, and email address on the available electronic form. There is a registration fee of $5 per every drone owner regardless of the number of drones one has in possession. Before Jan 20th 2016, the $5 was reverted back into the account of the owner after 30 days. This was done in order to encourage participation. Today, it has become the processing fee.
Step Four – Payment
You need to have your credit card information to complete this step. Once you have entered the required values in the appropriate location, your card will be charged. Once it is done, you need to click “Next” to move to the next section.
Step Five – Print the unique number and save the certificate
Once payment has been confirmed, you will be redirected to another page where your new certificate and unique number will be available. You will have to print the unique number as it is required to be glued on the drone for identification. The registration certificate can be printed on paper or can be saved as a PDF document and made available on the phone. This will ensure that it is always present in case it is required.
The FAA has come up with stiff penalties for every user who fails to register their drone(s). Users can face civil penalties that amount to $27,500 and criminal penalties that amount to $250,000. A jail term of three years is also part of the penalty package set forth by the FAA.
Once you have registered, there are safety guidelines that you have to adhere to; they are:
a. I will fly below 400 feet
b. I will fly within a visual line of sight
c. I will be aware of FAA airspace requirements
d. I will not fly directly over people
e. I will not fly over stadiums and sports events
f. I will not fly near emergency response efforts like fires
g. I will not fly near aircraft especially close to airports
h. I will not fly under the influence.