Federal Drone Laws
The federal government has passed a number of laws that govern the use of drones including the ones used for recreational purposes. Unfortunately, not all drone owners are aware of this and the lack of proper knowledge might lead to unintentional violations and possible sanctions. To prevent such, drone owners are advised to know and understand the applicable laws prior to the actual purchase. They should also be advised to at least understand some of the regulations involved when using a drone such as the following:
One of the most important federal drone laws implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) involves the registration of the drone used for recreational purposes or as a hobby. This came into effect late December last year. Based on the said guidelines, a recreational drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds but less than 55 pounds should be registered at the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft System’s website before these are flown outdoors.
Registration costs just $5 and can be done right here, https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/
This particular registration is quite convenient since it can be accomplished online. Only US citizens or legal permanent residents can do this. Aside from that, the drone can only be registered if the owner is 13 years or older when the registration is done. In the event that the owner is below 13 years old, the drone can still be registered in the name of a family member who meets the age requirement set forth.
Once you’ve provided your name, address and email address, you are given a unique identification number. This number will then have to be marked on your drone, and will cover every other drone you may also own. Registration lasts for 3 years.
If you are caught with an unregistered drone, you could face a fine of up to $250 000, and/or imprisonment for up to three years. This is quite a harsh punishment, and not worth the risk of not registering.
Important flying requirements
Owners of recreational drones are allowed to fly their unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for the sake of enjoyment. However, there are a number of rules that they must adhere to. While I personally think it’s a good idea to find and join your local model air clubs to safely fly your drone, it is not necessary. You can fly your drone in any space that isn’t privately owned, near homes, buildings, churches, and stadiums, or within close proximity of other people.
The FAA also encourages owners to take the needed flying lessons and learn how to fly their drones safely. This is because doing such will not only allow them to master the basics of flying but also to make sure that they safely fly their drones without placing others at risk. On top of that, this rule aims to save owners from incurring added expenses by crashing their drones due to lack of proper training.
Finally, the FAA cautions owners to be very careful when flying their drones near an airport. As much as possible, they should make sure that the distance of the area where the drone is flown must be about 5 miles away from the airport. When the distance is below the 5-mile limit, the owner is required to call the airport or the control tower to make them aware that an unmanned aircraft is flown nearby which might pose a hazard to manned aircrafts flying from and towards the airport. Aside from that, informing the airport of your drone’s presence near the area will help them to advise the incoming and outgoing aircraft’ pilots about the situation so that they can make the needed adjustments.
I mentioned earlier about joining a model air club, which I highly recommend, especially for new pilots. If you are stressed about where you can and cannot fly your drone safely or legally, these associations have strong rules and guidelines that help protect you and the other pilots.
Important flying don’ts to remember
Some of the guidelines included in the federal drone laws implemented in the country strictly prohibit the owners of recreational unmanned vehicles to do a number of things that might cause them to face civil and criminal penalties as well as place the lives of others in danger.
First off, the FAA strongly prohibits the owners from flying their drones near a manned aircraft. This is because the drone’s operating system might interfere with those that are used in the manned aircraft. The act might also send the passengers and personnel of the aircraft into chaos thinking that this might pose a threat to their safety.
Second, the agency prohibits owners from flying drones that weigh more than 55lbs unless it is certified by the aeromodelling organization. The agency wants owners to adhere to this guideline since failure to do so might result in accidents, injuries and even death in the event that the unmanned aerial vehicle would crash within the area. In addition to that, the presence of such an aircraft might be misinterpreted as a security threat to the community given that it has become common knowledge that terrorists are now capable of using these to create chaos.
Third, the FAA cautions the unmanned aerial vehicle owners to always adhere to the safety guidelines prescribed by the aeromodelling community in the area for this is an effective way to maintain the state of orderliness among drone operators. The agency constantly reminds drone owners about the importance of sticking to the rules and explaining that doing such will keep everyone in the community safe.
Finally, the agency strongly prohibits owners of recreational drones to fly their aircraft in exchange for money or because of commercial purposes since these are registered for recreational use. It also makes sure that the violators who contravene this rule will receive the necessary sanction.
The information provided above does not present all the contents and provisions of the federal drone laws implemented in the US. The points provided are just a few important aspects that the entire law is trying to impart on drone-owners. Although this does not cover everything, the points provided earlier are quite sufficient in providing the drone owners with the idea on what they should as well as what they should not do with their unmanned aerial vehicles. The discussion provided only serves as a guide. You can further extend your understanding of the applicable laws by conducting their own research about the topic.
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Leave a comment below if you have any feedback or would like to add to the discussion. And if you’re new to drones, as eager as you may be to get out there and start flying it around, please do your homework on the federal drone laws to ensure you’re not breaking any laws.