The popularity of drones and their widespread adoption by the public has meant that the FAA saw it fit to pass regulations for the use of unmanned aircraft systems. The popularity of drones has also caused an increase of public incidents that have played their part in stoking debate and calls for legislation.
To this end, the FAA has since released a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM), for small and unmanned aircraft which is the beginning of the rule making process for drone legislation. The NPRM does not cancel out the existing guidelines and regulations already in place, but does mean that prospective drone operators will have to familiarise themselves with its contents.
With their rise in popularity, the use of drones has moved from being just a pastime for enthusiasts to a regulated field. This means that any commercial enterprises or individuals looking to operate small, unmanned aircraft systems will need to understand the legalities of doing so first.
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Outlined below are some of the basic requirements for the use of drones for recreational and business users, as well as for use by public entities.
First and foremost is that since December 2015, anyone purchasing a drone weighing between 0.55 and 555 pounds will have to register it first before flying.
The proposed registration process will be electronic only and will require just a name and street address. Each registration will last for three years and is currently free, but only owners over 13 years old can do so. Owners can choose their own serial number or use one generated by the system which must then be displayed in an accessible place on the drone itself.
Registered unmanned aerial system operators will receive a digital certificate or a physical certificate in the mail which they must have with them each time the drone is in use. This requirement is in line with efforts to ensure drone users become responsible pilots and minimise accidents in public areas, while also enabling the government and FAA to hold drone operators responsible for their actions while operating a drone.