FAA Drone Registry Tops 1 Million

WASHINGTON – According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), the total registration figure includes 878,000 hobbyists, who receive one identification number for all the drones they own, and 122,000 commercial, public, and other drones, which are individually registered.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Elaine L. Chao, said at a recent consumer electronics show, “The tremendous growth in drone (UAV) registration reflects the fact that they are more than tools for commerce and trade, but can save lives, detect hazardous situations and assist with disaster recovery.  “The challenge is to remove unnecessary hurdles to enable the safe testing and integration of this technology into our country’s airspace.”

In addition to being required by law, the registration process helps educate drone operators who are new to aviation by having them agree to the FAA’s operating rules and increases airspace security by identifying drones with their owner.  The agency also has used the registration database to push important safety messages to drone users.

Registration was originally required under the FAA’s small drone registration rule effective December 21, 2015.  Under this rule, aircraft weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (approx. 25 kilograms), including payloads such as onboard cameras, must be registered.   Overturned by a court decision in 2017, the rule was recently reinstated in the National Defense Authorization Act passed last December.

Hobbyists and other users whose drones meet these requirements can register using the FAA’s web-based registry system. Registration costs $5 and is valid for three years. Some unmanned aircraft must still be registered using the agency’s paper-based traditional aircraft registration system.

When drone technology was just emerging, the media industry was one of the first in line to reap the benefits. The aerial perspective allowed by drones helps elevate cinematic storytelling, and movies, TV shows, advertisements, and news segments regularly feature drone footage today.

For health and safety professionals who are currently using or considering drone solutions, there are two important considerations to maintain safety and legality in UAV operations:

  1. Observe the 3 Rs: regulations, respect, restraint; and
  2. Promote a Safety-First Culture:  Safety requires you to maintain 360-degree awareness of your surroundings.

Mining, construction, and solid waste industries specialize in using drones and data collection to solve problems related to inventory and stockpile measurement, mining and solid waste mapping, and construction and engineering work.

A recent report by Goldman Sachs named the construction industry as one of the biggest potential markets for drones over the next 10 years, with an estimated $11.2 billion in earnings.

The National Science Foundation has awarded a half-million dollar grant to a community college in Utica, New York, to support a project that will develop a series of micro-credentials to increase the number of skilled technicians in the UAV industry.