One month after the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced its new rule requiring drones to be registered, the number of drones registered is nearly 300,000.
Owners who registered in the first month received a refund for the $5 application fee.
“I am pleased the public responded to our call to register,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a press statement. “The National Airspace System is a great resource and all users of it, including UAS users, are responsible for keeping it safe.”
For those unaware, the FAA instituted its new registration requirement on December 21, 2015. The rule applied to unmanned aircrafts that weigh between 0.55 and 55 pounds. Though the requirement applies to all drones whether or not they are for commercial use, the response gives a good look at how ubiquitous drone technology has become.
And while the exact number of American drone owners may not be known, as many as one million drones were expected to sell during last year’s holiday season.
Drone Age and the Small Businesses
Interestingly, the commercial drone industry is also seeing a surge in its growth with big corporations like Facebook, Google and Amazon entering the space. It is, however, the small businesses that stand to gain the most from the availability of inexpensive drone technology. According to a forecast (PDF) by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, commercial drone technology could create more than 100,000 jobs and generate $82 billion, chiefly through small businesses.
It’s worth noting that Australian startup Flirtey became the first company to provide commercial drone delivery in the U.S. last year.
“Small business people like me are slugging their way through the obstacles and bureaucracy to fulfill our dreams of creating this new industry,” Mike Gilkey, chief executive of 3D Aerial Solutions, a Dayton, Ohio-based company that provides drone technology for commercial use told the Washington Post.
Register or Face Penalties
Those who operated their small unmanned aircraft before December 21 must register by February 19, 2016. The FAA is working to make the online registration system available for non-model aircraft users — such as commercial operators — by March 21.
Drone owners who fail to register could face a civil penalty of $27,500, and criminal penalties that include three years in prison.
Owners may register drones at the FAA website.
Drone Photo via Shutterstock, FAA Logo via FAA website