To address concerns that unregulated drones pose a threat to national airspace, the Federal Aviation Administration plans to launch its registration website today.
“The FAA Small UAS registry is expected to go live during the day on December 21,” reads a message on the FAA website. No further information was immediately available, though.
In a nutshell: If you already own a quadcopter or other hobby drone, you’ve got until February 19 to get grandfathered in; if you buy one starting Monday, you have to register it before its first flight. The fee is $5 for your drones (unless you own a commercial fleet), but the agency is waiving the fee for the first month.
The process, once it goes live, should let you boldly attempt to put your name in the system, receive a registration number, and you slap that on your unmanned aerial vehicles before you fly. Although the system isn’t yet live, it’s not without its criticism: Forbes reports that the names and addresses of people who register in the system will be publicly available information. And the Academy of Model Aeronautics — a remote-controlled aircraft hobbyist organization that has argued that the FAA over-reports problematic drone flights — is urging its members not to register yet.
In a December 16 blog post, the AMA called the FAA’s ruling “unnecessary” and “burdensome,” and argues the FAA is overstepping its bounds by mandating unmanned aircraft registration. The AMA is “considering all legal and political remedies to address this issue” and asks that its members wait for now — or until February 19 — to register.
In the meantime, when the website goes live, we’ll take a closer look at what the process actually entails.