New requirements address responsible use
By some estimates, Santa delivered upward of a million drones this past Christmas season, but he might have forgotten to check his list twice with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In December, FAA announced all small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) weighing more than 0.55 lb. and less than 55 lb. must be registered.
“Make no mistake—unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” says Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely.”
Existing UAS owners must register no later than Feb. 19, 2016. Anyone purchasing a drone after Dec. 21, 2015, must register before their first outdoor flight. Operators will receive a unique identification number, valid for three years, that must be marked on the drone.
Operators who fail to register could face stiff penalties, including civil penalties of up to $27,500, criminal penalties up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to three years.
Ray Asebedo, precision agriculture specialist with Kansas State University (K-State), and Kurt Caraway, UAS manager with K-State Polytechnic, say these new steps are a positive for the agriculture industry. In particular, it’s better FAA has domain of drone regulation rather than individual states.
“Had it been determined UAS would be regulated at the state level, regulations for UAS would then be different depending upon the state in which the pilot in command was located, or UAS use could have been potentially outlawed at each state’s discretion,” the researchers note. “However, with UAS regulated by FAA, UAS operators will have greater stability and consistency in the regulations for UAS operations in agriculture across state lines.”
These requirements highlight important protocols for conducting safe flight operations, Asebedo and Caraway note in a recent K-State’s eUpdate newsletter. “Just as important as it is for owners of vehicles to know driving protocols that emphasize the motto ‘share the road,’ [drone] operators should also recognize we need to share the sky,” they say.
Registration is $5. Visit www.faa.gov/uas/registration for more information about UAS use.