As expected, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Monday that anyone who owns a consumer drone weighing between 0.55 pounds and 50 pounds must register it within the next two months. Recreational drone owners who fail to do so before February 19, 2016, could be fined up to $27,500 in civil penalties–or face jail time and $250,000 in criminal penalties.
This year has seen a slew of near-collisions caused by amateur-operated drones, many of which have been spotted flying dangerously close to airplanes. The new registration requirement is part of the FAA’s increasing efforts to regulate these small aircraft. In a press release, U.S. transportation secretary Anthony Foxx–one of Fast Company‘s Most Creative People of 2014–made a point of referring to even hobbyists as “aviators.”
“Make no mistake: Unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” Foxx said. “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.”
Registration opens next week, on December 21, and the FAA will waive the (very nominal) fee of $5 for those who register within the first 30 days. Anyone registering their drone online must be over 13 years old. This requirement does not, however, apply to drones being used commercially, though the FAA is currently working on an online registration system for that purpose.
[via The Verge]