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FAA: Small Drones Must Be Registered By February ( 533

An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has finally unveiled its new drone registration rules. Starting on 21 December, all newly-purchased drones between 250 grams (.55 lbs) and 25 kg (~55 lbs) must be registered before their first flight. Owners of drones purchased before that time must register by 19 February 2016. The FAA will charge $5 to register the drones, though the first month of registrations will be free. "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. "Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I'm excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation." There is also an age requirement: kids under the age of 13 will not be allowed to register a drone by themselves. In related news, Bard college has compiled a report on drone safety with respect to encounters with manned aircraft.
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FAA: Small Drones Must Be Registered By February

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  • by dlt074 ( 548126 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @12:46PM (#51114973)

    they are taking more money from us, so we will be safer!

    their solution to everything. disgusting.

  • by SirMasterboy ( 872152 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @12:55PM (#51115049) Homepage

    Hmm, my quadcopter is 0.41lbs so I guess I'm good. Although I occasionally attach my GoPro to it which puts it at 0.61lbs.

    • Re:Weight (Score:5, Funny)

      by geantvert ( 996616 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @12:59PM (#51115095)

      Turn the engine on. Its weight will miraculously decrease.

    • Well as long as the regulation specifies the weight as manufactured, and not when carrying cargo, you should be good.

      • The regulations refer to maximum take-off weight.

        • by rfengr ( 910026 )
          On Earth, or some other low-gravity planet? Of course the should have written "mass", but I doubt the lawyers know the difference.
        • Well if that's the case, then cargo is irrelevant. Maximum take-off weight is the same no matter how much cargo you add (going over the limit of course is dangerous and not allowed). It's exactly like GVWR in cars: the maximum vehicle weight with full fluids and maximum cargo.

          • What they actually mean is the maximum weight at takeoff, not the maximum potential weight at takeoff, which would be calculated by the drone plus however much lift it can generate on top of that, perhaps as measured by a fish scale... for multirotors, anyway. For planes, it would be a lot trickier to determine. Luckily, they're not trying; it's based on the weight of what you're actually flying. If you build a complete drone weighing 230g with battery but you plan to carry a 100g payload, you need to regis

  • Whew! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @12:55PM (#51115063)
    The good news is that now people who want to use RC machines to fly someplace they're not supposed to, or to carry some not-right payload (say, a small bomb, or ferrying contraband over a prison wall, etc) will now be stopped by this new paperwork.
  • I predict... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pla ( 258480 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @12:59PM (#51115099) Journal
    I predict the rise of a huge market for 249g drones in the very near future.

    That said, "Civilian drones weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 pounds) must be registered and identified with markings so that authorities have a better chance of finding the owner in the event of an illegal flight or crash"... Riiight, because someone planning to illegally use their drone will certainly make sure to properly register it first?
    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      Yes, you clearly assume all people who do wrong are criminal masterminds, and not a couple pot smoking burnouts on a journey to enrich their depressing lives by doing stupid things.

    • I predict the rise of a huge market for 249g drones in the very near future.

      The battery I use for my drones weighs 230g. My fixed wing weighs 1126g (sans battery) and my quad (a rather ordinary-weight 450) weighs 698g. And that's all without FPV. The FPV rig weighs another 78g. If you want to have a meaningfully-sized drone that weighs less than 250g, you're going to have to spend spend spend on the exotic materials.

      • Lighter drones would also be a lot more susceptible to wind. I've seen a lot of "indoor use only" RC helicopters that won't need to be registered, but big enough to carry a payload like a camera and fly for 30 minutes or more would exceed the weight limit.
        • Most toy-class drones seem to only fly for 10-20 minutes, with 12-15 minutes fairly standard. That's right about where my quad is, too, but I could spend considerably more on the battery. I've only got 2650mAh and for just a few tens of grams more I could get up over 5Ah... but it would have been three times the money for just twice the runtime and I'm going to have to have a commercial purpose for that. Instead I got two packs, so I can run my fixed and my quad at the same time, or run one twice. And I hav

    • Or, you know, simply remove the serial number, like they've been doing for firearms for how long now?
    • The majority of devices used for a crime are not purchased for that crime. Instead, people buy them, use them, and then think "hey, I could..."

      In addition there are a bunch of idiots that don't know that doing certain obvious things are illegal.

      More often than not it's, "Hey there's a fire across town - let's use my drone to take a picture of it!" Rather than 'hm. lets buy a drone and illegally use it to annoy the firefighters.

  • by Joe Gillian ( 3683399 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @01:01PM (#51115127)

    The Bloomberg article mentions that the $5 fee is actually a government mandate in the law that the FAA is using to claim authority over RC aircraft, but to anyone looking at it, it looks like the RC aircraft equivalent of red light cameras: a government cash-grab that does little to nothing to actually improve safety. I'm having trouble seeing how having tagged drones is going to do anything but allow the government to collect more money in fines, both for unauthorized drone use and for drone use without a license.

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      The same with cars! Fuck-em. Anyone who cares to drive an illegal car can just fake the legitimacy, so we may as well trash the highway safety commission along with it. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars if you ask me.

      • Bad analogy. It's a lot easier to trace the owner of an unregistered car; they are usual located behind the steering wheel. When law enforcement has the ability to follow my tiny drone and read the license plate on it, then I might consider it a better analogy.
    • Except that you get your money back if you register in the first thirty days. And it's $5 per person for three years. You're gonna get pretty close to the heat death of the universe before you get enough money to even pay back the web site development costs.

      • While I'm sure the government can easily spend millions how much money do you need to make a 2 page web site with a 3rd/4th page being some CC processors web site for payment? One static form with the required info and validation, off the the CC proc for CC and confirmation and back to a here is your cert stuff data into a DB.

  • by Hercules Peanut ( 540188 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @01:13PM (#51115239)
    Did I completely misread this or did we just spend $46 million on a website because of 238 "potentially unsafe" operations? Does the Federal Government even have the right to do this for "aviation" that never crosses state borders?

    From the rules (
    The FAA estimates that in calendar year 2014, 200,000 small unmanned aircraft were operated in the NAS in model aircraft operations. During this period, the FAA received 238 reports of potentially unsafe UAS operations.

    In order to implement the new streamlined, web-based system described in this IFR, the FAA will incur costs to develop, implement, and maintain the system. Small UAS operators will require time to register and mark their aircraft, and that time has a cost. The total of government and registrant resource cost for small unmanned aircraft registration and marking under this new system is $56 million ($46 million present value at 7 percent) through 2020.
  • Does my drone-mounted pistol need to be registered with the BATF too?
  • by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @01:29PM (#51115393) Journal
    So many of you are complaining about your toys having to be registered with the FAA now. But I put these points to you:

    1. Who is really to blame, here? The retards who were irresponsible with their toys, that's who, so go bang on them!
    2. What the actual FUCK do you expect the FAA and the government to do? Nothing? Doing nothing means the problem continues. Or do you expect cops to waste their time trying to chase down little flying toys? That's like trying to herd ferrets.. who got into a case of Rockstar; it ain't happenin'. The only other viable alternative I can see, would be to ban non-government drones entirely from the U.S., which no doubt would make all of you froth at the mouth even worse. Therefore: GET OVER IT.
    • 2. What the actual FUCK do you expect the FAA and the government to do? Nothing?


      Doing nothing means the problem continues. Or do you expect cops to waste their time trying to chase down little flying toys?

      What problem? And the cops will still have to track down the owner of the toy used for the crime anyway. Maybe a list of registered drones helps, maybe not (which is likely the case for mass produced, non-serialized toys).

    • Who is really to blame, here?

      The government.

      What the actual FUCK do you expect the FAA and the government to do?

      Enforce existing laws that target criminals instead of enacting new ones that target innocent people.


  • by zlexiss ( 14056 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @01:32PM (#51115413)

    Some people seem to have trouble navigating a vehicle safely in two dimensions. Add a third and this is what happens. A steady string of events and incidents from people who just can't act with some responsibility (see earlier comments on why RC aircraft community typically doesn't have this problem)

    It's why I never ask when my flying car will show up. As a population we suck enough at driving on the ground as it is.

  • If everyone that owns and flies model UAS were to issue a collective middle finger to these asshats, the whole thing would go away overnight.

    • I like my drones, and I don't want to take the chance of some overzealous cop "accidentally" mangling them in the process of illegally confiscating them.

  • So, those Estes model rockets that we used to send thousands of feet into the air in the 60s and 70s now need to be registered with the FAA? Seems to me they could do a lot more damage than a miniature quad rotor... I suspect their solid-fuel engines were filled with something that could be classified as an explosive, too. Seriously, we need a better definition of what actually needs to be registered.
    • No, if you RTFA this is registration for remotely controlled aircraft. You don't have to register your rocket unless it weighs over 250g and has a control system in it. You do still have to let someone know if you're going to launch a rocket which may interfere with air traffic.

      • by Deagol ( 323173 )

        Wait a sec..."remotely controlled" and "has a control system in it" are 2 totally different things. Which is it?

        I assume it's the latter, since if only "remote control" requires requires registration, then programmable or autonomous drones will become the next big thing in the consumer drone space.

        • Wait a sec..."remotely controlled" and "has a control system in it" are 2 totally different things. Which is it?

          "A UAS is the unmanned aircraft (UA) and all of the associated support equipment, control station, data links, telemetry, communications and navigation equipment, etc., necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft.

          The UA is the flying portion of the system, flown by a pilot via a ground control system, or autonomously through use of an on-board computer, communication links and any additional equipment that is necessary for the UA to operate safely. The FAA issues an experimental airworthiness certificate for

      • A rocket with a control system is by definition a 'missile' and is treated the same as a full auto gun. 10 years federal.

        • A rocket with a control system is by definition a 'missile' and is treated the same as a full auto gun. 10 years federal.

          Is that true even if the control system can only engage once the rocket cuts off? It's a shame, if so.

    • Those rocket motors are filled with black powder, the regular sulfer, saltpeter, and charcoal kind. It is generally not considered an explosive for legal purposes. Because if it was I'm sure the NRA would have a fit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 )

      No, the model rocket and traditional radio controlled aircraft activities were largely self regulating. With the understanding that if they didn't do it themselves, the FAA would be happy to ban them. And, prior to this, it worked. Now, no so much.

      BTW, you DO have to register certain model rockets with the FAA as well as getting specific clearance for flights for the larger rockets. The ones that go thousands of feet in the air. The little ones only go several hundreds of feet.

      So there.

  • Albany county in NY is trying to ban drone use by non-law enforcement []

  • Remember it? "I can fly where I want, there is no law that tells me I cannot fly above your ground. Or near an airport. IT IS MY RIGHT!"

    Now we have a law. And registration. And more and more restrictions. Why? Because people can't use a tiny bit of common sense. Contrary to popular (right wing) belief, governments don't relish in getting into your way of "freedom". Governments are lazy, why the fuck should they be any different than the people voting them in? Politicians don't come from Mars, they come from

    • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

      I'm inclined to think that you're being too harsh on the drone operators and too nice to the government. Don't you think the abuses people have committed with their UAVs is mostly due to negligence and/or stupidity. I highly doubt that people are deliberately flying their equipment anywhere and everywhere to make a political statement about their "rights". Same with people who own guns. The gun rights activists aren't the ones committing crimes and using firearms irresponsibly.

      "Politicians ... are the s

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @02:05PM (#51115745) Homepage

    What about my 18 pound Remote control airplane that goes about 50 mile an hour? I'm far faster and far more deadly than any "drone" which is uneducated speak for quadcopter.

    These new rules were written by morons in response to knee jerking.

    • What about my 18 pound Remote control airplane that goes about 50 mile an hour? I'm far faster and far more deadly than any "drone" which is uneducated speak for quadcopter.

      Yes, it's an unmanned aircraft, and you're going to have to register it even if it has absolutely no control intelligence whatsoever. It's not really registering the craft, though; if it's under 55 pounds, it's registering YOU. They're going to give you one number, and you're going to put it on all your UAs. This is actually not drone registration, this is actually unmanned aircraft registration, and that includes both remote control and autonomous aircraft, as well as everything in between.

      If it's over 55

  • I am still struggling to understand, what argument is there for mandatory license-plates on personal vehicles, that would not also apply to people having to carry identification. And not just any identification, but visible at all times from different sides whenever in public or where the public has legal right to access.

  • I have a UAV, it's a fun toy and gives me some different perspectives as a landscape photographer. I seriously don't see the issue in registering it - it costs $5 (or $0 if I'm quick) and I only have to provide my name and address, which any vaguely determined cop could already get from my credit card records if they really wanted.

    Given that some people do seem to have trouble using them sensibly, mandating a record (despite the fact that no, it won't catch everyone) seems reasonable. I mean having cars be

    • The potential for misuse seems pretty small to me.

      The hell there isn't potential for misuse. Registering drones means now the gubermint has a list of names and addresses. First they will come and demand my drones. Then they will do it with guns! Hell they are even trying to say i can't have guns on my drones - how stupid is that?

  • by Ellis D. Tripp ( 755736 ) on Monday December 14, 2015 @02:45PM (#51116103) Homepage

    licensing requirements for CB radios were back in the 1970s.

    And just like the FCC, the FAA isn't going to have the resources to go after every kid with an RC quadcopter.

  • Since you can legally be in the USA without necessarily being a citizen (just visiting, legal permanent resident, et al), are non-citizens forbidden from flying drones?

God made the integers; all else is the work of Man. -- Kronecker