This year alone drones have crash-landed on the White House lawn, knocked out power in West Hollywood and hampered wildfire fighting in Northern California. On what seems related to this mishaps, the Federal Aviation Association announced new rules this past Monday that will require all drone owners to register in a national database starting on December 21.
In other words, if you’re anticipating a drone for Christmas this year, don’t expect to fly it straight out of the box.
The FAA’s hope is to create some sense of accountability for remote operators of recreational drones. A recent example is the drone that flew into a West Hollywood power line and caused a three-hour blackout for more than 700 people. Bits of the drone were found on scene by investigators, but there was no trace of the identity of its clearly klutzy pilot.
The FAA will require drone owners to submit their names, home addresses and email addresses to its database before flying any drone between 1.5 and 55 pounds by February 19th. The agency hopes that this will allow law enforcement to easily track misbehaving drones back to their owners and nudge them to be more responsible while piloting.
Failing to register cost you: the FAA said violators will have to cough up to $250,000 in fines or three years in jail. The regulation stems from an old FAA regulation that applies to any aircraft not used to provide air transportation.
Since you could get slapped with jail time or a $250,000 fine for your little half-pound hobby drone, you’ll probably want to register.