Drone registration soars to new heights

Published Feb 16, 2018 at 12:00pm

The number of drones registered with the Federal Aviation Administration topped one million last month.

This number includes 878,000 hobbyists, who receive one identification number for all the drones they own and 122,000 commercial, public, and other drones, which are individually registered.

“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,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. “The challenge is to remove unnecessary hurdles to enable the safe testing and integration of this technology into our country’s airspace.”

Registration is required by law, and the FAA maintains that this process helps educate drone operators who are new to aviation by having them agree to the agency’s operating rules and increases airspace security by identifying drones with their owner. It was originally required under the FAA’s small drone registration rule effective Dec. 21, 2015, which applied to drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds.  Overturned by a court decision in 2017, the rule was recently reinstated in the National Defense Authorization Act passed last December.