The FAA has announced a web-based commercial drone registration process to register small drones, beginning today. The web-based system is designed to significantly decrease the time spent by commercial drone operators to register their aircraft. The registration fee is $5, the same fee that recreational drone operators pay.
“Registration is an important tool to help us educate aircraft owners and safely integrate this exciting new technology into the same airspace as other aircraft operations,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
All commercial drone operators must still apply for a 333 exemption from the FAA before doing business, and receive a certificate of authorization (COA) or other FAA authorization, in addition to registering their aircraft. But the online system represents a significant change for commercial drone operators, who previously had to use a drawn-out paper process to register drones with the FAA’s legacy aircraft registry in Oklahoma City, OK.
Operators who have already registered using the paper system do not have to re-register in the online system. The FAA is encouraging new owners who are registering for the first time to use the online registration system, which will offer additional benefits. Commercial operators registering online will have an account that will enable them to access records for all of their registered drones.
Recreational drone operators who have registered under the web-based system as hobbyists, but who now intend to use their aircraft for commercial purposes will need need to re-register in order to provide aircraft specific information.
Operators will still need to use a paper process for drones weighing more than 55 pounds, flown internationally, owned by a trustee, or in the case where an operator uses a voting trust to meet citizenship requirements. Operators must also use the paper process if their Section 333 COA requires them to do so.
The online registration system for commercial drones is similar to that available for recreational drones, but it requires drone specific information including the manufacturer, model and serial number, in addition to the operator’s contact information. Registration certificates last for 3 years.
You can register and find more information on the program here.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.