Buyers beware! If that drone you find under the Christmas tree weighs much more than half a pound, you’re going to have to register it with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) before you fly it outside.
The FAA and the Department of Transportation (DoT) announced new rules on Monday that will mean nearly all drone operators will have to register their drones in a national database.
The authorities have been attempting to crack down on unlicensed drones amid their rising popularity – they are expected to be one of this Christmas’s biggest toys. But drones have been seen as a major menace and have disrupted firefighting efforts, been used to snoop on neighbors and to smuggle drugs into prison (not to mention regularly flying too close to manned aircraft).
The new rules cover all drones weighing more than 0.55lb (0.25kg) and take effect on 21 December. A significant number of Christmas toys may be affected – and quite a few children may need to get their parents to register for them, because licensed drone pilots must be over 13 years of age. Drone owners who began flying their quadcopter vehicles before that date will have until 19 February to comply.
New drone toys are notably light – the box containing the largest radio-controlled flying Millennium Falcon toy weighs barely 1.7lb, according to the manufacturer, Spinmaster, and that includes the remote. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and a customer service representative could only give the weight of the vehicle and its controller. (Read more from “Drone Owners Get Christmas Surprise from FAA” HERE)