Well there goes the freedom of exploring the United States with a drone. Thanks to irresponsible owners, nearly all drones must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration.
On Monday, the F.A.A. announced first-of-its-kind regulations regarding drones. Starting on December 21, anyone with a drone will be required to register any drone that weighs between half a pound and 55 pounds by February 19, 2016. Registering will be free for the first 30 days. After that period, the fee for each individual drone user will be $5 for a three-year certificate of registration. If on Christmas you get a drone from Santa Claus, you must register the aircraft prior to its first flight.
Drone owners will be required to submit their names, home addresses and email addresses with the F.A.A. on their site. Those who do not register their drones could face fines of up to $250,000 and even up to three years of prison time. Guess you should just register your drone.
The registration generates a unique identification number which covers every drone operated by the pilot. The operator must carry proof of registration, though that can be kept electronically on your phone or tablet. Each registration lasts for three years, at which point it has to be renewed.
“Unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said Anthony Foxx, the secretary of the Transportation Department. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
Government officials have rushed to implement the new rules on drones before the holidays because there is an estimated 700,000 new drones that are expected to be purchased and given as gifts.
The new rules of registration in a national database stem from the increasing numbers of drones, dangers of drones affected traditional aircraft and a potential terrorism threat.
Last Friday, a new assessment was released that found at least 241 reports of close encounters between drones and manned aircraft. These near-miss situations meet the Federal Aviation Administration’s definition of a near-collision, including 28 incidents in which pilots had to veer out of the way.
The analysis by Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone found that 90 of the close drone encounters involved commercial jets.
The urban areas with the most incidents were New York/Newark, New Jersey, 86; Los Angeles, 39; Miami, 24; Chicago, 20; Boston, 20; San Jose, California, 19; Washington, 19; Atlanta, 17; Seattle, 17; San Diego, 14; Orlando, Florida, 13; Houston, 12; Portland, Oregon, 12; Dallas/Fort Worth, 11; and Denver, 10.
So much for land of the free.