Last updated: 11:04 AM ET, Wed December 16 2015

Own a Drone? The FAA Now Requires Registration

Impacting Travel | Paul Thompson | December 16, 2015

Own a Drone? The FAA Now Requires Registration

Drones, aka “quadcopters,” have been a newsworthy nuisance almost since the day they first appeared in the wild, and their use has become more restricted over time. If you own one, the FAA now requires you to register it as the result of a new law, effective December 21st.

“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. Under the Privacy Act of 1974, the FAA has added “small unmanned aircraft used for hobby and recreational purpose (i.e., model aircraft) and unmanned aircraft and small unmanned aircraft used for commercial purposes” to the requirement that all aircraft be registered.

Privacy is one of the biggest concerns over drones. Numerous cases have been recorded with people shooting drones out of the sky over their property. Hollywood studios are fighting overhead drones, whose operators film and then leak set designs and plot themes.

Pinewood Studios, producer of the latest James Bond Film, “Spectre” and this week’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” have considered using everything from fire hoses to guns, and even kamikaze drones to get invading drones out of their airspace. Drones are also banned from National Parks out of concern that their presence and noise would disturb the reproductive habits of animals.

Several drone flights have interfered with commercial airline flights around airports. Denver International Airport reported seven unauthorized drone incursions into its airspace between July and September, including one within 500 feet of an aircraft, and TravelPulse has reported similar incursions at airports around the world. FAA regulations prohibit operation of a drone above 400 feet within five miles of an airport without approval from Air Traffic Control.

But what if the drone is the one with the gun? This July, an 18-year-old man in Connecticut posted a YouTube video of his drone with a gun attached, which was being remotely fired while in the air. That’s scary, especially adding the fact that he had a long history of run-ins with the law. So it’s definitely good news that the FAA’s drone registry will be accessible to law enforcement to help with drone-related investigations.

The FAA’s Know Before You Fly site provides a handy list of safety guidelines if you already have a drone. If Santa is bringing you one for Christmas instead of an exploding hoverboard, maybe the jolly fella will take care of the paperwork and send in the $5 fee for you as well. But if you register it before January 20th, your fee will be refunded as an incentive to put your drone on record. 


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