Despite initial criticism over what many believed to be a “drone tax,” the Federal Aviation Administration reports that nearly 300,000 people officially registered their unmanned aircraft via the agency’s online registration system over the past 30 days. Though the relatively high number could easily be linked to the fact the FAA offered $5 refunds (i.e., the full registration fee) to anyone registering during the first month, the agency was quick to point out it’s still receiving “a steady stream” of registration requests daily.
“I am pleased the public responded to our call to register,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in the published press release. “The National Airspace System is a great resource and all users of it, including UAS users, are responsible for keeping it safe.”
For those unaware, just last month, the FAA instituted a new registration requirement on December 21, 2015, making registration of any small UAV weighing over 0.55 lbs. mandatory for any recreational or hobby drone users. Additionally, first-time drone owners must register their new aircraft before taking it on its maiden voyage while owners of UAVs prior to the FAA’s registration announcement have until February 19, 2016 — and may continue flying their drone without registration in the meantime. Currently, the online system is only open to those who consider themselves hobbyists and who pilot their aircraft recreationally, though the FAA says it plans to include commercial registration by March.
“The registration numbers we’re seeing so far are very encouraging,” says FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We’re working hard to build on this early momentum and ensure everyone understands the registration requirement.”
While the 300,000 registered pilots is no doubt a win for the FAA, it’s worth noting the agency is simply registering pilots and not the drone’s themselves — despite an aircraft weight restriction being tied to the actual process itself. According to the FAA’s original statement last December, each person registering their aircraft simply provide their name, home address, and email address before receiving a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership. This official paperwork comes with a unique ID number pilots are then required to affix to the aircraft they fly. Moreover, just one registration application is required regardless of the size of one’s drone fleet and lasts for a total of three years.