FAA UAS Registration Rule
My 2 Cent Take As An RC Aviator

FAA sUAS Registration - No Drone Zone

Well, I just muddled through the FAA UAS Registration 211 page document in hopes of understanding this nonsense a bit better.

It was far from an easy read and there were lots of "proposed" suggestions that the task force had to consider; many of which were border line insanity, so we can at least be thankful many of the silly suggestions were not adopted and the democratic process was followed with a "smattering" of reason thrown in for good measure.

The 100 mile up view of the FAA UAS registration that goes into full effect December 21st 2015 is all sUAS (small unmanned aerial systems - which include all RC aircraft) between the weight of 0.55 lbs and 55 lbs (unless only flown indoors) will require mandatory registration and require the unique registration number to be on the RC model in an easily accessible/view-able area.

You as the RC flier are responsible to obtain registration and the number before ever flying your RC aircraft outdoors. If you are caught flying without registration, FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

This registration applies to all recreational RC aircraft (that fall within the weight range) you own before or after the 21st of December 2015. If you have a vintage RC helicopter or airplane that is 20 years old and you still fly it; yep, you must include your shiny new FAA registration number on it! 

The registration is done on-line. You will get a registration number that is good for all your present and future RC aircraft. The cost is $5.00 USD and every 3 years, you will have to renew your registration (if you are still flying any RC models) and pay another $5.00. Of course, we all know that fee will go up, but at least the FAA is waving the fee until January 20th, 2016 to entice your first time registration. 

This just covers the broad questions I've been getting so far from my visitors. I have a more in-depth Q&A direct from FAA's site at the end of this page. 

FAA UAV Registration

What Caused This?

It's always easy to nay-say any new regulation without all the facts in hand. In other words, I came at this with an open mind.

Yes, like many RC fliers who oppose registration; while I certainly don't like the idea, I wasn't naive enough to think things could continue the way they have been given the level of fear mongering by many in combination with the actions of some very bad RC fliers.

I feel if done right, accountability makes sense, pragmatically at least...

I have been worried about this for the past few years now as more and more newbies take to the sky, some who have absolutely no business being there thanks to electronic flight stabilization help & GPS autopilot enabled flight.

In my RC Drone rant article, I mention exactly why I and others feel this way, and how some of these folks have cast a very negative light on all RC aviation of which most of us "true" RC aviation hobbyists are very responsible folks - many who also fly full size aircraft.

So before going any further, I would like to send a big thank-you out to the irresponsible RC fliers of the world for finally wrecking it for the rest of us! I'm not saying such folks are the one & only cause, but they certainly are very visible catalysts.

There are countless videos I see with self stabilizing mid size or larger qaud or multi rotors with GPS autopilot, going on hero missions, flying well over 1000 feet AGL and more times than not, over high density population areas.

I then see many of them falling out of the sky at terminal velocity when they get caught in a thermal or high level wind and don't have the battery power to safely get back home and land. I also see lots of them crashing into people's yards, houses, and cars for the simple reason the person controlling the thing didn't know what they were even doing.

Now, perhaps those videos realistically represent less than 10% (I sure hope so) of what most quad & multi rotor fliers are actually doing; but with yearly sales in the millions worldwide, that is still a potentially very large number of people doing stuff they absolutely shouldn't be.

I fly one GPS enabled multi-rotor by way of FPV as well (enabling beyond line of sight flight - which by definition is also illegal), but I would never dream of flying it over people or houses. Moreover, I have my hand held aviation radio with me at all times tuned to our local frequency in the rare event a full size aircraft is in the area.

I also would not be upset in the least if I eventually have to register it for a nominal fee. I know the risks involved and I for one appreciate what the FAA is attempting to do.

Where to put the registration number?

Now, please remember, I live in Canada so I'm not directly affected by this new FAA UAS registration rule like all USA RC aviators are; but you know full well, Transport Canada and other aviation governing bodies world wide will very likely adopt similar RC aircraft registration processes in the coming years.

Before going any further with this dry topic, lets watch an entertaining video...

Fear Prompts Legislation
Legislation Generates Confirmation Bias

Perhaps my single largest gripe with this entire process is the fact that certain special interest groups were able to gain enough support through the use of fear mongering and bullying; backing up their positions with nothing but anecdotal evidence, appeals to probability, and rhetoric.

This in my opinion was caused by the continuous and inaccurate use of the word drone, along with main stream media looking to sensationalize any report they get on an incident involving a recreational RC aircraft. Most if not all being easy to fly quad & multi rotors as they best fit what the general public identify as "drones" which of course they are not.

So now RC usage gets regulated and that gives these groups even more power & creditably in the eyes of the general public because they can state things like "RC aircraft obviously pose a threat, otherwise the FAA would not require them to be registered".

This has happened many times when other questionable legislation is hastily pushed through. While the initial idea is good on the surface and seems sound, it can then later be used to give the proponents of the legislation even more of a voice & power by twisting it in their favor. Most likely in this case the inevitable charge that RC aircraft pose a real threat to the general public now that the FAA says registration is required; despite the fact there is no hard data to support such a claim. 

FAA Won't Recognize AMA Membership

AMA Already Doing What The FAA Is Trying To Do

They don't recognize AMA membership at all!?

Yep, even if you only fly your plane, helicopter, glider, or multi-rotor at a sanctioned RC flying field, following all the very common sense aviation rules the AMA has already painstaking adopted, have your AMA # and/or name & address affixed to your aircraft, and are covered by their liability insurance; you still need to pay your 5 bucks and register your RC model with the FAA.

You pay your yearly AMA & club fees, you took the time to learn how to fly correctly, you have a basic understanding of aeronautical physics, you have and can show an understanding of all the systems onboard your aircraft, you have a basic understanding of meteorology, and you fully understand and appreciate the responsibility that comes with the privilege of flying an RC aircraft.

Yet the FAA groups you in with the "unskilled masses" of which many don't even understand the basic principles of lift. What a slap in the face!

Traditional RC airplane and helicopter pilots are not the problem here FAA. We have been flying our aircraft for over 70 years and it has never been an issue for the simple reason we never fly beyond line of sight, and the moment we stop actively piloting our plane, helicopter, or glider - they crash. They have never posed any real threat; past, present, or future!

Only because of advancements in electronics that fully stabilize the aircraft so it can fly well beyond line of site without any input from the pilot, use of GPS for fully autonomous flight, or the use of FPV flying methods, has the line of sight and lack of skill safety net been broken .

How Real Is The RC Aircraft Risk?

RC AS350 RC Helicopter In Wide Open Area & No Spectators Around = No Risk

Speaking of safety nets, just what is the risk here - if any?

There have still been no reported full size aircraft collisions with RC models other than at an actual small RC airshow event where a scale RC airplane (flown by a highly skilled pilot no less) was hit by a full size sport bi-plane. The event was being held at a small airport where both RC and full size airplanes were present. Moreover, this had nothing to do with the RC model flying beyond line of site, over 400 feet high, or any special stabilization technology.

Poor communication between the event planner/s is the general consensus of the mishap, and there is no mention (at least none I can find) if there ever was a NOTAM filed for the event. That again falls into the responsibility of the event planners. I suspect there wasn't a NOTAM issued, because the FAA ultimately ruled the RC airplane pilot was the one responsible even though he had full permission to be flying there at the time. The report states he was not maintaining situational awareness. Something I talk about in my FPV writeup.   

Most news reports of "near drone misses" are also grossly exaggerated. Near misses reported by the media are almost always distant RC multi-rotor sightings by pilots. 

Of course, with the growing number of quad & multi-rotors taking to the sky every year; eventually a near miss will be exactly that, and no question a few full on collisions will eventually occur based on the law of averages and the irresponsible actions of others.

Still, the numbers will pale in comparison to the thousands of bird strikes every year, many of which will do much more damage than the vast majority of consumer based ready to fly quad copters. 

That said, I don't recognize the argument that birds cause more damage and collisions and therefore the vast majority of RC aircraft pose little to no threat. While that is most certainly true, I also hope humans that are flying RC models are a little bit smarter than birds when it comes to avoiding full size aircraft.

Yep, I know, some people are obviously not as smart as birds and will go out of their way to cause mischief. Like I said before - a big thanks goes out those that have finally wrecked it for the rest of us!  

Will FAA UAS Registration Really Help The Underlying Problem?

First off, what is the underlying problem? No matter how it's spun, FAA's primary reason for RC sUAS regulation is to have in place a system to identify, find, and prosecute any irresponsible nut that flies his/her RC aircraft into a manned aircraft or anything else causing property damage, injury, death, or mischief.

In other words, a way to hold someone accountable if they do something stupid. A good idea and I full well agree.

I however don't see that as the primary problem that has surfaced with easy to fly RC aircraft for the masses. What I see to be the single biggest problem is a total lack of education and understanding when it comes to flying an RC model.

In all honestly, I believe the vast majority of newcomers to the hobby simply don't understand the many risks RC Aircraft can pose to others or even to themselves.

Not only that, they may not realize that any time you are up in the air, things can and will fail that will bring down your aircraft. My own personal motto regarding RC flight is... "When do you know your RC model might crash? Any time it's flying." Think that way while you are flying, and you really start paying attention to what you are flying over. Most also don't understand air currents and what can be going on up there, even when things on the ground are perfectly benign.

I know for a fact, most people who approach me when I'm flying my RC helicopters have no idea at first how complex this hobby can be; they still think in many ways we are flying "toys". That same mindset no doubt is then mirrored as they take to the sky with their own out of box easy to fly quad copter.

If you are in that same "newbie boat", I encourage you to spend some time on the Know Before You Fly website. It's a  great resource and even has a neat little test you can take to see just how much you know about the do's and don'ts of RC flying.

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “

If this mandatory registration requires the passing of a simple exam like the one above before anyone new to the hobby takes to the sky, then as far as I'm concerned, more than half the battle has just been won.

Informed users will then become your informers & educators - just as I have been trying to do on this website & while out flying/instructing for many years now.  

Now what about these Registration numbers on the aircraft? Will having a registration number on a little sub 55 pound RC aircraft that brings down an Airbus A320 (not that it ever could) really help identify the owner responsible? 

  • 1st - I don't think it's likely that any full ID number will be left on a small RC aircraft after it get disintegrated into hundreds of little pieces after it collides with a full size aircraft traveling at over 200 MPH or is ingested through a turbo fan, propeller, or rotor. No question some will survive lower energy impacts, but even finding the RC aircraft debris would more often than not be unlikely. 
  • 2nd - Does the FAA really think the bad apples & mischief makers out there that purposely want to cause issues are going to put a registration number on their model - not bloody likely! It is them after-all that have caused all this BS for the rest of us and no way will they ever comply with this FAA UAS registration rule.
  • 3rd, what happens when registration numbers are being falsified and/or stolen? Of course it's going to happen. So your number is stolen somehow by some moron who then flies a qaud copter on a suicide mission bearing your registration number. It's then traced back to you - nice! So anytime you post a picture of your airplane, helicopter, glider, or multi-rotor on-line somewhere, better make sure that registration number is hidden. 
  • Lastly, who will police all this, administer fines, press charges, etc? I'm assuming the idea is any bylaw enforcement or police officer who sees someone outside flying an RC aircraft will have the right to stop and ask to see their FAA registration, and then weigh the craft to see if it's over the 0.55 lb limit... Ya right! It's not like they have anything better to do with the real problems facing our world right now.  There is simply no practical way to police or enforce this.

These are just a few problems I thought of while reading through the regulations - I'm sure many more will surface.

So what's my suggestion to Transport Canada if they ever blindly adopt a similar RC aircraft registration process, or to the FAA if they ever update and amend theirs?

My first suggestion is obvious - DON'T DO IT! We don't need registration, we need more "real" education.

That suggestion will no doubt be laughed at and there are people out there that will go out of there way to cause negative feedback, so what registration method makes sense, if any?

To me, something like what Transport Canada has in place for Pleasure Water Craft (PWC) operators would work equally well for RC Aircraft operators.  

1. Keep it simple... Go On-line, pay a minimal fee, take the small online course, write and pass your basic RC Aircraft Competency Exam (RC-ACE - love it!), get your certificate card to keep with you, or in your RC Field box, any time you are flying.

It would be nice if your certificate was good for life (again like the PWC example), but perhaps a 3 to 5 year renewal process is a good idea. After all, for many, this is nothing but a year long (or less) passing fad and it makes sense to keep the data base up to date & clean. 

It however might be worthwhile to have an option to pay a "moderately" higher "one time forever fee" for us true RC aviation hobbyists that intend to be buried along side our fleet of RC aircraft.

2. No aircraft numbering required. It's pointless on small RC models because the vast majority don't last long, the numbers can't be seen from the ground or from other aircraft, parts which might have the number are often changed out, and in the event of a collision, the number will likely be rendered unreadable regardless.

Education alone, along with a certificate stating you are competent to operate an RC model, will do way more good than any little onboard registration number ever will. Those who choose to fly in restricted airspace or areas they shouldn't to cause mischief, won't register anyways or will use stolen registration numbers to get others in hot water.

3. Recognize AMA or MAAC membership numbers as equally suitable alternatives to your registration number. Better yet, if the AMA or MAAC wishes, build the price of the FAA or Transport Canada UAS registration fee into your membership, and then let the "all knowing" feds deal with the administrative nightmare of assigning UAS registration & numbers to all your members and their aircraft, freeing your administrator's time up immensely ;-)

Anyways, I'm sure people an order of magnitude smarter than I am already suggested such simple ideas to the FAA and were ultimately shut down. I have no doubt the "language" of this new FAA UAS registration rule will change and evolve as they experiment with how it works/doesn't work over the next year or so and start to realize the administrate workload involved.

I just hope it doesn't make it easier for special interest groups to further restrict our benign fun, by twisting and cherry picking this now existing legislation to support their cause.

I personally think registration should only apply to any RC model that has automated flight stabilization, GPS, waypoint, or is flown by means of FPV. Basically any technology that allows sustained beyond line of sight RC flight. Problem is, that cool stuff can all be added or removed afterward to most hobby grade model aircraft, so there is no practical way to monitor it.

Like it or not, RC aircraft registration is here. Now more than ever, it's RC pilot's world wide responsibility to educate both newcomers to the hobby & the general public; while promoting the hobby in a safe, responsible, and professional way.

Like I mentioned before, there were some real wacky ideas proposed to the FAA regarding recreational RC flight. Now that this legislation is in effect, those same insane ideas will be that much easier to amend additional restrictions.

FAA UAS Registration Q&A


Q1. What is the definition of a UAS? Is it different from a drone?

A. A UAS is an unmanned aircraft system. A drone and a UAS are the same for registration purposes.

Q2. Does the FAA have the authority to require registration of UAS used by modelers and hobbyists?

A. Yes. By statute all aircraft are required to register. Congress has defined "aircraft" to include UAS, regardless of whether they are operated by modelers and hobbyists.

Q3. What is the penalty for failing to register?

A. Failure to register an aircraft may result in regulatory and criminal sanctions. The FAA may assess civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to three years.

Q4. Will an operator be required to have proof of registration while operating the UAS?

A. Yes. You will be required to have your FAA registration certificate in your possession when operating your unmanned aircraft.

Q5. Why do I need to register?

A. Federal law requires aircraft registration. Registration helps us ensure safety – for you, others on the ground, and manned aircraft. UAS pose new security and privacy challenges and must be traceable in the event of an incident. It will also help enable the return of your UAS should it be lost.

Q6. Where can I find information about operating my UAS safely?

A. You can find safety and operating guidance on the internet at www.faa.gov/uas/model_aircraft. The unmanned aircraft systems website contains important safety guidance as well as other facts and information.

What's covered by the new registration system?

Q7. Who is required to register on the new online UAS registration website?

A. Only individual recreational or hobby users who meet U.S. citizenship requirements are able to register their unmanned aircraft using this new streamlined web-based process. This new, faster and easier system will be available for other UAS owners soon.

Q8. Which unmanned aircraft may register under the new registration requirements?

A. Unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds and more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) on takeoff, including everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft and operated outdoors in the national airspace system must register. These aircraft may register under the new web-based registration system.

Q9. Is there a weight limit on what requires registration?

A. All owners of small UAS weighing more than 250 grams (0.55 lbs.) and less than 55 lbs. must register using this new system

Q10. Do children's toys need to be registered?

A. Not if they weigh below 250 gm/0.55 lb. or less. Most "toys" the FAA has identified at a purchase price of $100 or less have been determined to weigh less than 250g. 

Q11. Do I have to register a paper airplane, or a toy balloon or Frisbee?

A. No. Even if these things could be considered "drones" or "unmanned aircraft" and met the minimum weight threshold of 250 gm/0.55 lb., the registration rules also require that they be a part of an "unmanned aircraft system." An "unmanned aircraft system" includes the communication links and components that control the small unmanned aircraft along with all of the other elements needed to safely operate the drone. Paper airplanes, toy balloons, Frisbees, and similar items are not connected to such control system.

Q12. Where do I register if my unmanned aircraft weighs 55 pounds or more?

A. UAS that are 55 pounds or more must be registered using the current paper based system at: http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/aircraft_certification/aircraft_registry/

Q13. Is the registration process different if you're a business versus a person?

A. The new system does not yet support registration of small UAS used in connection with a business. It will in the future. In the meantime, these entities must continue to register using the paper-based process.

Q14. What about tethered drones?

A. Both tethered and untethered UAS must be registered.

Q15. If I'm just flying it for fun in my yard, do I have to register it?

A. Yes, if the UAS weight is within the stated weights for registration.

Q16. If I only fly it indoors, do I have to register it?

A. No, the FAA does not regulate indoor UAS use.

Q17. Do homemade drones need to be registered?

A. Yes, if they fall within the weight criteria.

Q18. Will the requirement apply to UAS that I owned and operated before the registration process existed?

A. Yes. Owners who purchased their UAS prior to Dec. 21, 2015 will have 60 days to register.

Q19. Who must continue to register unmanned aircraft using the current paper-based Aircraft Registration System?

A. Any types of entities other than individual hobbyists (corporations, co-ownerships, partnerships, non-citizen corporations, and government), any small unmanned aircraft operating commercially or for reasons other than recreational or hobby, anyone wanting to operate outside the U.S., anyone with a UAS weighing 55 pounds or more and anyone wanting to record a lease or security interest must continue to register under the paper-based system at this time.

Q20. Can I register a UAS under the new system using a paper form?

A. The new registration system is an online web-based system only, but you may use the older paper-based system if you prefer.

Q21. Is there a minimum age requirement?

A. Yes. You must be 13 years of age or older before you are permitted to register an unmanned aircraft. If the owner is less than 13 years of age, then a person who is at least 13 years of age must register the unmanned aircraft.

Q22. Is there a citizenship requirement?

A. Only United States citizens can register their small UAS. The certificate serves as a certificate of ownership for non-citizens, not a registration certificate.

Q23. If I get a drone as a gift do I need to register?

A. Yes, unless the drone already has been registered in your name and you have the unique identification number. If the name or address registered is different from yours, you should update the registration to your name and address to aid in the return of your UAS if it is lost.

Q24. What happens if I sell my drone?

A. You should log on to the registration website and update your registration information. We also strongly encourage you to remove your registration number from the drone before the transfer of ownership.

How to use the new registration process

Q25. Where do I go to register my drone?

A. You can register your drone on FAA.gov beginning on December 21, 2015.

Q26. When must I register?

A. You must register prior to operating the UAS outdoors.

Q27. When will I be able to register on the UAS website?

A. The FAA UAS Registration website will be available starting December 21, 2015.

Q28. What information will I be required to provide on the FAA UAS Registration website?

A. You must provide your complete name, physical address, mailing address, and an email address. The email address will be used as your login ID when you set up your account.

Q29. Do I have to provide any information on my UAS?

A. Individual recreational users do not have to enter the make, model, and serial number. All non-recreational users will be required to provide the make, model, and serial number when the website is available to all other users.

Q30. If I own multiple drones, do I have to register them all?

A. No. You may register once and apply the same registration number to all your UAS.

Q31. Does it cost anything to register?

A. Federal law requires owners to pay $5 to register their aircraft. However, registration is free for the first 30 days to encourage speedy registration of UAS. During the first 30 days, you must pay $5 with a credit card and a $5 credit will appear shortly afterwards.

Q32. Why do I need to pay to register?

A. The fee will go to pay for the costs of creating the streamlined web-based registry system, and to maintain and improve this system. The FAA is legally required to charge a registration fee.

Q33. The website said registration is free. Why am I being charged $5?

A. The credit card transaction helps authenticate the user. You will see a credit for the $5 shortly after the charge appears.

Q34. When must UAS owners who purchased their aircraft before December 21, 2015 register?

A. UAS operated by the current owner prior to December 21, 2015, must be registered no later than February 19, 2016. For all other UAS, registration is required prior to operation.

Q35. Is there a registration renewal requirement for UAS, like there is for manned aircraft?

A. Yes. You will be required to renew every three years and you must pay a $5 renewal fee.

Q36. What should I expect once I complete my registration on the UAS website?

A. You will receive a unique registration number that applies to any and all UAS that you own. You must mark all of your UAS with the unique registration number before operating. A registration certificate that contains the unique FAA registration number, the issue and expiration dates, and the name of the certificate holder will be sent to your email address immediately.

Certificate of Registration

Q37. How do I prove I am registered?

A. A certificate of registration will be available to download and will be sent to your email address at the time of registration. When operating your UAS you must be able to present the certificate in either print or electronic format if asked for proof of registration.

Q38. Do I have to have a printout of my certificate with me?

A. No. If you are asked to show your certificate of registration, you can show it electronically. You do not have to print the certificate.

Q39. If I let someone borrow my drone do I have to give them the Certificate of Registration?

A. Yes, anyone who operates your drone must have the Certificate of Aircraft Registration in their possession. You can give them a paper copy, email it to them, or they can show it electronically from the registration website.

Q40. Why does the certificate I received constitute recognition of registration for US citizens and permanent residents, but only recognition of ownership for foreign nationals? Have I complied with the requirement to register?

A. All users can submit information to the UAS registry; however, the law only permits the FAA to register aircraft belonging to United States citizens and permanent residents. For all others, the certificate received from the registry comprises a recognition of ownership, rather than a registration. Foreign nationals who have completed the recognition of ownership process and wish to receive a rebate for the $5 registration fee may contact the FAA. Nonetheless, all users are encouraged to submit their information and mark their UAS. This will facilitate the recovery of the UAS, should it be lost or stolen.

Marking and operating your UAS before you fly

Q41. Will my drone require an N-number or sticker?

A. No. You will receive a unique registration number, not an N-number, and you must mark the registration number on your UAS by some means that is legible and allows the number to be readily seen. The registration number may be placed in a battery compartment as long as it can be accessed without the use of tools.

Q42. Is putting my AMA number on my drone enough?

A. No. Not at this time. The registration system will generate a unique FAA registration number, which you must mark on your aircraft.

Q43. Would putting my contact information on my drone be enough?

A. No, you must mark it with the FAA registration number.

Q44. How do I mark my unmanned aircraft with the unique registration number?

A. You may use any method to affix the number, such as permanent marker, label, engraving, or other means, as long as the number is readily accessible and maintained in a condition that is readable and legible upon close visual inspection. If your unmanned aircraft has an easily accessible battery compartment you may affix the number in that compartment.

Operating information

Q45. May I operate my UAS once I register?

A. Completion of the registration process does not provide authorization to operate your UAS. 

Q46. How high is 400 feet?

A. Typical buildings have floors that are 12-14 feet high. A 30-40 story building would be about 400 feet high. If you lose sight of your unmanned aircraft, it is probably above 400 feet.


Q47. Who can see the data that I can enter?

A. The FAA will be able to see the data that you enter. The FAA is using a contractor to maintain the website and database, and that contractor also will be able to see the data that you enter. Like the FAA, the contractor is required to comply with strict legal requirements to protect the confidentiality of the personal data you provide. Under certain circumstances, law enforcement officers might also be able to see the data.

Q48. Will my email address be used for other purposes? Will you make it available to other agencies or companies?

A. No.

Q49. Why is the current Aircraft Registry fully searchable but this one is not?

A. The current Aircraft Registry is most frequently used to record the documents used to secure the financing of the aircraft and to aid in proof of ownership. Full searchability of that portion of the Aircraft Registry is needed to enable those purposes. It is much less likely that UAS in the .55 pound to 55 pounds category will require secured financing or need to affirmatively prove ownership. The Government, in accordance with the requirements of the Privacy Act, protects and generally does not release personal information. Given the nature of UAS, in particular, the risk that the communications link between the operator of the UAS is disrupted or lost, and the risk of losing the UAS is larger than it is for other types of aircraft. Allowing searches of the unique identifying number of UAS will enable the return of these aircraft to their owners.

Other questions on the registry

Q50. A pilot cannot read a number on a drone so how will registering protect traditional aircraft?

A. A registration requirement encourages a culture of accountability and responsibility. Much like registering a motor vehicle, registering a drone ties a specific person to a specific aircraft. Greater accountability will help protect innovation, which is in danger of being undermined by reckless behavior. This requirement mirrors the requirement for manned operations and commercial UAS operations.

Q51. Someone intent on harm will not register a drone, so doesn't this requirement just penalize responsible people who are excited about UAS?

A. Although no system or requirement is 100 percent effective against people intent on doing harm, registration heightens public awareness about what safe UAS operations look like. In addition, registration establishes a shared understanding that operating this type of aircraft for business or pleasure comes with certain responsibilities and expectations and that the public will be watching for and reporting bad actors, just as they do today for other safety and security-related concerns. Registration also enables us to educate UAS owners on safe operations.

Q52. How do I find out how much my drone weighs?

A. A consumer kitchen or postal scale that measures in ounces or grams is an easy and convenient method. The weight limit is only for the flying portion of the Unmanned Aircraft System and does not include the weight of the controller.

Q53. Is the weight on the box the weight of the drone?

A. Not necessarily. If you add a camera or anything else to the drone, it may change the weight. To be sure, you should weigh it.

Q54. If I don't have a scale and my drone doesn't appear on the list is there another method to tell how much it weighs?

A. Two sticks of butter weigh 0.5lbs.

Q55. If a drone crashes in my yard what do I do?

A. Call local law enforcement.

Q56. Is there a limit to how many drones I can own?

A. No

Q57. If I register and then give the drone as a gift am I liable for its use?

A. Laws governing liability for damage caused by drones vary by state. If the gift recipient is a minor, in some states you might have some liability if the drone causes damage. For federal civil aviation law purposes, the operator of the drone is liable for its use.

Q58. I am a citizen of a foreign country who lives in the United States. How do I know if I can register a drone with the FAA?

A. Federal law allows an individual citizen of another country who has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States under the regulations of the Department of Homeland Security to register an aircraft, including a drone, with the FAA.

Q59. If the State or town I live requires me to register my drone, do I still need to register it with the FAA?

A. Yes. Federal law requires that all aircraft, including drones, be registered with the FAA prior to operation in the US.

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