Before the new year, all drone owners must register their devices before flying them. The new registration requirements were announced Monday. Officials hope they will encourage owners to operate the devices in a responsible manner. It would also make it easier for authorities to track down those involved in drone crashes or incidents. Drone owners will be responsible for registering devices.
Registration is a statutory requirement that applies to all aircraft. Under this rule, any owner of a small unmanned aircraft (UAS) who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to December 21, 2015, must register no later than February 19, 2016. Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after December 21, 2015 must register before the first flight outdoors. Owners may use either the paper-based process or the new streamlined, web-based system. Owners using the new streamlined web-based system must be at least 13 years old to register. Owners may register through a web-based system at www.faa.gov/uas/registration.
Registrants will need to provide their name, home address and e-mail address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include a unique identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft. Owners using the model aircraft for hobby or recreation will only have to register once and may use the same identification number for all of their model UAS. The registration is valid for three years. The normal registration fee is $5, but in an effort to encourage as many people as possible to register quickly, the FAA is waiving this fee for the first 30 days (from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016).
The online registration system does not yet support registration of small UAS used for any purpose other than hobby or recreation – for example, using an unmanned aircraft in connection with a business. The FAA is developing enhancements that will allow such online registrations by spring of 2016.
These regulations and the necessity to register is important as drones become more and more a part of our daily lives. As insurance companies are finding, there are many complex liability and coverage issues related to insuring the use of commercial UAS. It is clear that two particular issues are going to raise huge red flags to the insurance industry – personal injury and invasion of privacy. As far as insuring these aircraft, carriers will want to know such things as its function or intent, its takeoff and landing location, whether it will be operating over a populated area, and its flying altitude.
Potentially, insurance carriers might require even stricter guidelines than what the FAA has recently rolled out as their mandates. Carriers will probably offer types of coverages for the use of UAS for business activities such as: liability, personal injury, invasion of privacy, property and workers’ compensation. The scope of coverage will really depend on exactly what the aircraft is meant to do.