According to a recent survey, 63% of Americans cite Christmas as one of the days they experience happiness and enjoyment without a lot of stress and worry. But figuring out the perfect gift for a loved one may produce a lot of anxiety for some of us — particularly when the recipient seemingly has everything. If you’ve opted to give your tech-savvy child or partner a drone this Christmas, you may think you’ve done well by thinking outside the box. You’ll just need to remember to register it if you want them to be able to take it for a spin outdoors.
According to Colin Guinn of 3-D Robotics, drones can help engineers and architects tackle various construction tasks with greater accuracy. And of course, they’re now being used for everything from surveillance to Amazon deliveries. Since U.S. retail e-commerce sales are projected to reach $485.27 billion by 2021, it’s likely that more Amazon drones will be flying the friendly skies in the years to come. But if you want your own personal drone to be out there too, you’ll have to follow the rules.
President Trump recently signed a bill into law that revived a regulation that requires drone users to register their UAVs (short for unmanned aerial vehicles) with the Federal Aviation Association. This regulation isn’t new, as it was enacted two years ago. But back in May, model aircraft hobbyists had fought for the right to forgo the federally mandated regulation and its associated fee. The U.S. Court of Appeals actually ruled that the mandatory registration rule violated the FAA Modernization and Reform Act that says the FAA “may not promulgate any rule of regulation regarding model aircraft.”
But now, the National Defense Authorization Act has been signed into law and part of it requires even hobbyists who own drones to register their devices and pay a $5 fee before they fly them outdoors. You’ll also need to write your registration number on the drone. The FAA is thrilled that the regulation has been enacted once again, as they feel the requirements that come along with the registration are the best way to ensure drones are being operated safely without posing a security threat.
Even when the registration requirements were in place before, that didn’t stop people from buying and registering drones. Around 300,000 drone users signed up with the database within the first month back in 2015. With so many drones up in the air, there’s a greater chance that these vehicles could collide with passenger planes. Although 3.5 billion people flew safely on 37.6 million flights in 2015, the option to not register a drone and follow the regulations could pose threat to safety or even national security.
Fail to register your drone and you could pay a hefty price. Although it costs just $5 to take care of it with the FAA, you could pay a civil penalty of up to $27,500 or a criminal penalty of up to $250,000 or three years in jail just for taking your drone out for an unregistered flight. Ultimately, the sky — and the government — might not be so friendly to those who choose to ignore the law. So if you’ve already wrapped up a drone for Santa to bring, make sure you go online and fork up the five bucks before your child unwraps it on Christmas morning, just to be on the safe side.