As expected, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that anyone who owns a consumer drone weighing between 0.55 pounds and 50 pounds must register it before February 19 or be fined up to $27,500 in civil penalties—or face jail time and $250,000 in criminal penalties.
The new registration requirement is part of the FAA’s increasing efforts to regulate drone use. U.S. transportation secretary Anthony Foxx made a point of referring to even hobbyists as “aviators” and pointed out that with that title comes a great deal of responsibility. He expects that the registration of consumer drones could improve accountability in case of accidents and that registering unmanned aircraft will help build a culture of accountability and responsibility, especially with new users who have no experience operating in the U.S. aviation system. It’s clear from past drone intrusions into public spaces and accidents that a “culture of accountability and responsibility” is needed to help protect public safety in the air and on the ground. Registration will help educate operators and enable consequences if drones are not flown safely. This requirement does not, however, apply to drones being used commercially, though the FAA is currently working on an online registration system for that purpose.
Whether a drone is for “hobbyist” use or a recognized and approved commercial application, it is essential that drone operators carry appropriate insurance coverage. Homeowner policies and commercial general liability insurance coverages do not include property damages, bodily injury, or personal injury caused by drones. New exclusions clarify that drones are aircraft subject to special coverage and new standard insurance industry forms have been developed to provide varying degrees of coverage.
Please see our previous posts about drone issues: