As one of the fastest growing industries, it comes as no surprise that drones were a top purchase for the 2021 holiday season, especially in the wake of COVID19. One of the many things the world learned during the pandemic is that drones are amazing tools that can keep us entertained and connected, provide job opportunities and critical supplies, and assist us in ways we never imagined. The use of drones has broken through the barriers of the military, law enforcement, scientific, and industrial industries, becoming technology available in one form or another for almost anyone.
But, as the former U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Make no mistake, unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility.” By now, anyone intending to use a drone of any size commercially knows that they need to register the drone and obtain a Part 107 license. What many don’t realize, is that the FAA has passed new regulations that state every single drone in the United States, whether being flown commercially or recreationally, must be registered. This includes small drones like the DJI Mavic or Skydio 2 that average around $1,000, mini drones like Tello or Ruko that average around $100, and even toy drones that cost as little as $20-$50.
Michael den Hartog from Florida Drone Supply and a representative for the FAA Safety Team said, “A lot of people thought that if you had a drone out there and you were just flying for fun, you didn’t have to have a license. Now everyone’s required to have a license.” Michael also pointed out that it is very easy to register/license a drone. For any drone weighing more than 0.55lbs- which is all drones on the market- simply go to the FAA’s website to register the device. The $5 registration fee will allow one owner to register multiple drones. The FAA will provide the owner with a registration number that needs to be visible on the drone. Michael also recommends placing contact information on a drone if it gets lost, a likely scenario for a new drone pilot.
Included in the registration process is the FAA’s new recreational drone education program called TRUST (The Recreational UAS Safety Test). This test is far more simple than the Part 107 needed for commercial drone use. It is a safety guideline, much like what should come with a drone’s user manual. The FAA provides all the study materials and a list of websites to take the free exam through. And for many, TRUST is a starting point to get more involved in the UAV industry, possibly leading to an income earning Part 107.
The biggest concern the FAA has with the influx of new recreational drone pilots, is that they will think of the drone as a toy and just go out and fly without thinking of the possible repercussions of doing so without a basic understanding of drone regulations. Drones are here to stay, and their popularity and use cases will only continue to grow. It is the responsibility of all drone operators to do so in respect and understanding of FAA regulations.