The new system will be mandatory for all drone owners

US drone registration launches 21 December

A registry system for owners and operators of unmanned aerial vehicles in the USA has been announced by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration.

The online registration is designed to be as user-friendly as possible and will become a statutory requirement for all small unmanned aircraft weighing more than 250 grams and less than 25 kilograms including payloads such as on-board cameras.

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said US 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.”

The launch of the registry system follows a rise in the popularity of drones and the resulting increased likelihood of crashes in densely packed airspace.

The system could also pave the way for commercial delivery services that would use unmanned aircraft to distribute packages to customers.

Google recently announced plans for its ‘Project Wing’ drone delivery service to start deliveries to customers in 2017, but said that a registry system would need to be implemented before it could launch.

The new rules stipulate that any owner of a small unmanned aerial vehicle who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft prior to 21 December 2015, must register by 19 February 2016.

Owners of any UAVs purchased for use after 21 December have to register before the first flight outdoors.

The $5 fee to sign up will be waived for the first 30 days to encourage as many people to sign up as possible.

“We expect hundreds of thousands of model unmanned aircraft will be purchased this holiday season,” said FAA administrator Michael Huerta.

“Registration gives us the opportunity to educate these new airspace users before they fly so they know the airspace rules and understand they are accountable to the public for flying responsibly.”

Ministers in the UK have also considered placing restrictions on drones following a number of near misses with aircraft.

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