This is an excerpt of an opinion piece originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.
I registered my drone this week, as required by a new Federal Aviation Administration rule.
Here’s how registration works:
I logged onto the site and entered my name, home address and email address.
There is a registration fee, so I also had to enter my credit card information. The registration fee is $5 per drone owner — the same $5 processing fee charged for any aircraft registration — but the FAA says it will refund the $5 fee for drones registered through Jan. 20 to encourage participation.
Once I hit the “next” button, I received a personal identification number and certificate to print out (though like most millennials, I don’t have a printer). I did write the identification number on a sticker, which I then pasted on my drone, an original DJI Phantom that I have been flying since early 2013.
By the time I entered my credit card number, the entire process took somewhere between two and three minutes.
That’s it! I am now a registered drone operator.
Why does the FAA want people to register?
The FAA anticipates that 1 million drones will be sold at Christmas, meaning an unprecedented number of people will be flying drones soon. Many of them may not have any education in safe airspace practices or operating remote-control aircraft.
Drones have been spotted flying too close to airports as airplanes are taking off, a drone crashed near the White House in early January, and an 18-month-old boy’s eye was sliced in half after he was hit in the head by a crashing drone.
Drones are easy to fly, but they’re not completely idiot-proof. Just a few things that could go wrong: An improperly installed propeller could pop off mid-flight, causing a crash. The GPS may not have been set properly, resulting in a flyaway drone.
Registration is intended to force some education upon pilots who may not have malicious intent, but also may not have read the “Know Before You Fly” guidelines included with most drone purchases in the U.S. It also means that government and law enforcement officials will be able to track down reckless drone operators — something that, until now, they haven’t been able to do.
So what’s all the fuss about?
I expect that few drone operators will ever register their drones.
In many cases, this may simply be because they don’t realize they are now required to register. The FAA has posted the new rule to its social media platforms, but has admitted it is mostly dependent on media outlets to spread the word.
And, in most cases, nothing bad will come of this — no drone will crash and burn, no operator will get fined for doing nothing more than flying without an ID number. No one will be the wiser.
But there has been a highly charged, negative reaction to registration among drone operators (at least those discussing the FAA rule in online forums and web communities). People really don’t want to register their drones. Given how easy it is, why are people so against it?