More Than 600,000 Drone Users Registered This Year: FAA

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By Stephanie Beasley

More than a half-million drone users have been added to a public registry over the past year, the FAA announced Dec. 21.

And with combined total sales of hobbyist and commercial unmanned aircraft systems expected to rise from 2.5 million in 2016 to 7 million in 2020, user numbers are expected to soar.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a mandate last December requiring operators of small drones between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds to register with the agency. Since then, more than 616,000 owners and individual drones have been added to the system, according to a FAA statement.

Applicants pay a $5.00 fee and receive an identification number for all drones they own. The registration is valid for three years.

The registry initially targeted recreational users or hobbyists. But commercial drone operators also began registering after the release of federal regulations in August that allowed small commercial drone use. Amazon, Google and Flirtey are among a number of companies planning to move forward with drone delivery services.

Registry Part of Safety Education

FAA launched the drone registry after issuing a report showing a spike in the number of drone sightings by airline pilots. One of the goals of the registry is to teach drone operators how to fly safely, said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

“While we’ve been registering manned aircraft for decades, doing the same for drones was uncharted territory for us,” he said.

He said the agency was mindful that most drone hobbyists had no aviation experience and needed to be educated about safety standards.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Beasley in Washington at sbeasley@bna.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bna.com

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