According to a new ruling issued by the Federal Aviation Administration in the Federal Register, the drone registration number is now required to be marked on the outside of aircraft. The exact location where the registration number is to be marked or the size of the markings are not elaborated in the rule. It simply enunciates that the registration number should be easily visible upon visual examination of the drone’s exterior. The rule has been in effect since February 23, 2019. Drone operators were allowed to mark their registration number on the interior compartment of the machine such as a battery case.
But this was not appreciated by the law enforcement agencies in the wake of ever-increasing security threats posed by the use of drones. The FAA quite explicitly discussed the risk a hidden explosive device may pose to the first responders upon opening a drone’s interior compartment in search of the drone registration number.
Before the ruling was brought into effect, it was an Interim Final Rule, which means that the public had been invited to submit their opinion at this link and search for RIN 2120-AL32. The Federal Aviation Administration said in a prepared statement that such an Interim Final Rule is issued when a delay in the implementation of the rule is impractical, undesired, or in contradiction to the interest of the public at large.
The agency further said that in this situation, the authority had deemed it fitting to give more importance to mitigating the risk encountered by first responders in contrast to the unease caused by this ruling to drone operators.
The rules and regulations forged by the FAA are always being chopped and changed, often to the annoyance of drone operators. The program was initiated in December 2015 and required drone hobbyists to get their aircrafts registered through the FAA website for a $5 fee. A unique identification number was then issued to the drone pilots which was required to be pasted on their machine. Almost 300,000 drone operators got themselves registered during the first month of the program.
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However, in May, 2017, an Appeals court in a reference to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act 2012, abrogated the requirement imposed on drone hobbyists to get their machines registered. The said Act stated that the FAA must abstain from issuing any ruling with regard to a model aircraft.The rule was again reinstated in December 2017 by virtue of the National Defense Authorization Act.The drone registration requirement was formulated in a bid to assist law enforcement apparatus to identify the owners of drones with malafide intent but it has proved to be obfuscating and rather controversial. Some drone operators are of the view that the ruling had been put in place as a reaction to events such as a drone crash near the White House in 2015 despite the fact that the drone pilot in that instant had voluntarily come forward.
Colin Snow, the founder of drone research firm Skylogic Research, said in a post that the law enforcement agencies want to be able to identify the owner of the drone registration number in case of any rogue behavior but if someone wants to use a drone for criminal purposes, why would they get it registered in the first place? There have been instances where drones were seen to be flying too close to airports with the aircrafts taking off or over fires where first responders needed to clear the area. A crashing drone resulted in severe injury to an 18-year-old boy’s eye. Scam drone registration websites have spawned on the internet after the promulgation of this rule.
Websites such as FederalDroneRegistration.com and FAADroneZones.com claim to be official FAA drone registration platforms but they charge a hefty registration fee of $200 instead of the nominal fee of $5.
At the moment, all pilots are required to get their drones registered. Ensure that you do not end up paying more than $5 for the registration. According to the statistics released by the FAA, there are more than one million registered drones in the country.