The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently announced that the total number of drones now registered has surpassed one million. That one million registration figure includes 878,000 drone hobbyists, who receive only one registration number for all the drones that they own—which means they likely own more than one, and that 878,000 number means there are even more drones in the sky than that. The other 122,000 drone registrations include commercial, public and ‘other’ drones which are all individually registered with the FAA. It is also important to note that these drone registrations are for all drones (or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)—the official name of these flying devices) weighing over 0.55 pounds but under 55 pounds in total (i.e., including payloads, onboard cameras, etc.). This one million registration number is even more astounding because so many hobbyist drones weigh less than 0.55 pounds and there are certainly other types of commercial drones weighing over 55 pounds that are zipping around the skies.
These one million registrations come after a federal appeals court ruling in May 2017 that ruled that the FAA violated the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 when it placed registration requirements on hobbyists, forcing registration requirements for recreational operators to be dropped. However, the registration requirement was reinstated in December 2017 in the National Defense Authorization Act.
Elaine L. Chao, Secretary for the Department of Transportation, said, “The tremendous growth in drone registration reflects the fact that they are more than tools for commerce and trade but can save lives, detect hazardous situations and assist with disaster recovery. The challenge is to remove unnecessary hurdles to enable the safe testing and integration of this technology into our country’s airspace.” So a friendly reminder—you can register your drone on the FAA’s web-based registry system and pay the $5.00 registration fee to get you three years of flying time—its required by FAA regulations.