The United States' Federal Aviation Administration is readying new rules for drone usage, requiring users to register their drones on purchase or face penalties



The days of unrestricted aerial photography could be numbered

The American Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will require prospective drone users to register their drones before flying them in US airspace, according to new plans announced this week.

Previously, unregistered aircraft of any kind were permitted to fly however they wanted as long as they did not exceed an altitude of 600-feet. However, the DoT and FAA are looking to change this.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, ‘Registration will help us enforce the rules against those who operate unsafely, by allowing the FAA to identify the operators of unmanned aircraft. We can take enforcement action as necessary to enforce the airspace.’

The announcement follows a few months of publicised incidents involving drones, most infamously the grounding of firefighting helicopters due to five drones whose owners were attempting to get video footage of a blaze in San Bernadino county.

The Drone Registration Task Force, which will draft and enforce the legislation, will be made up of representatives both from the drone industry and the government. It needs to make its recommendations by November 20th, as the plan is to get the restrictions in place by Christmas.

With more than one million drones expected to be given as Christmas presents in the US alone, the administration has a clear goal to get the restrictions in place as soon as possible.

Exactly what qualifies a drone to need registration is yet to be announced – it’s not clear for instance whether a child’s toy counts as the same kind of unmanned aircraft as a quadcopter with a camera mounted onto it.

Drone manufacturer DJI has been approached to collaborate on the new measures as a member of the FAA’s Drone Registration Task Force.

‘While I am concerned about the short schedule and limited opportunity for public comment, we support regulatory approaches that strike an appropriate balance between risk, benefit and the burden of compliance,’ said Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president of policy & legal affairs. ’DJI intends to represent the interests of its customers as this process moves forward.’

DJI has made it clear that it is not entirely happy with how the policy has been announced, inviting US citizens and customers to make comments on the proposals at

We’re interested to gather some opinions on this. While we’re naturally uncomfortable with the idea of aerial videography being restricted, incidents such as the grounding of firefighting helicopters do need to be addressed. That said, is a blanket measure that could affect children with remote-controlled helicopters the way to go about it?

Do you think that drone users should be legally obligated to register their devices? Would you be glad to see such a measure implemented in the UK? Vote on our poll below: