FAA makes drone registration compulsory

After numerous incidents of drones flying near jets and airports, the US government has made it mandatory to register the aircraft to make it easier to identify owners and educate amateur aviators.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced the move yesterday even as it continues to receive over a 100 reports per month about drones flying near manned aircraft. The FAA bars drones and model airplanes from flying higher than 400 feet or within five miles of an airport.

With drones becoming increasing popular with hobbyists, the FAA estimated that 1.6 million small unmanned aircraft would be sold this year, with half during the past three months of the year.

The owner's unique registration number would be marked on the drones and according to the FAA that would allow authorities track down owners in case of violation of rules. However, with registration the agency would also get a vehicle to educate owners.

The requirement includes aircraft weighing from more than half pound up to 55 pounds, including any payload such as a camera. Drone owners would need to register on a FAA website that would become available starting 21 December. Parents may register for children below 13 years.

According to the FAA, those who already owned drones had until 19 February of next year to complete the registration process, while those who purchased a drone after 21 December need to register it before they flew it outdoors.

According to the more the 200 plus pages of rules released by the FAA, the new website would be open to commercial operators by the end of March, which would allow them to drop an antiquated system that relied on snail-mailed forms.

According to Mark McKinnon, an attorney with the law firm Dentons, the opportunity to file for a registration number online would be a big step forward for companies.

''The current system is very cumbersome,'' he explained, requiring drone operators to manually fill out a multi-layered form ''You know those forms that have the white copy and then a pink copy and a green copy and then the under copy,''www.insideunmannedsystems.com reported.