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License to fly: FAA requires UAS owners to register devices

FAA graphic

FAA graphic

Published: January 7, 2015

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (Jan. 7, 2015) -- With more and more unmanned aircraft systems taking to the skies in the civilian world, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration is looking to regulate these remote-control Aviators.

Owners of small UAS weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, including payloads such as on-board cameras, are required to register their devices with the FAA as a means of safety, according to a mid-December press release by the FAA.

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are Aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in the release. “Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I’m excited to welcome these new Aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation.”

Under the rule, any owner of a small UAS who has previously operated an unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft prior to Dec. 21 must register no later than Feb. 19, according to the release.

Owners who purchased their UAS device after Dec. 21 must register their device before their first flight outdoors.

People can register their devices at

Registrants must provide their name, home address and e-mail address, and upon completion will be provided with a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include an identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft. Owners only have to register once and can use the same ID number for all of the UAS devices, and each registration is valid for three years.

The cost to register is $5, but if people register by Jan. 20, the FAA will waive the fee.

In addition to having their aircraft registered, Fort Rucker hobbyist UAS Aviators must also go through additional processes in order to fly their model aircraft on the installation or any of the outlying stagefields.

Anyone wishing to fly their model aircraft or other UAS on Fort Rucker must be a member of a Fort Rucker-approved RC model aircraft flying club that has primary responsibility for RC operations at the subject stagefield or locations, according to U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence Regulation 95-2.

The RC model aircraft flying clubs responsible for the various stagefields are the Wiregrass Radio Control Club for Hunt Stagefield and Brown Stagefield as a backup site; and the Southern Radio Control Flyers Club for Toth Stagefield.

Also, membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics, the national organization for the operation of RC model aircraft, is required by both RC clubs, as well as the Directorate of Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

According to the regulation, no RC model aircraft operations are allowed when the stagefield towers are in operation or while any full-scale aircraft are present, whether temporarily or permanently parked.

For more information, call 255-9331.

When flying UAS devices, safety is always a main concern, according to Jack Holmes, USAACE G3 Air, Airfield and Airspace Branch chief, who offers up tips to make sure people are operation their RC aircraft safely.

People should always fly below 400 feet and always fly within visual line of sight, he said. Never fly over groups of people or over stadiums and sports events. People should also never fly within 5 miles of an airport without first contacting air traffic control and airport authorities.

Holmes added that people should also remember to stay clear of emergency response efforts, such as fires or accidents, and never fly their UAS devices near other aircraft, insisting that people who fly RC aircraft familiarize themselves with FAA airspace requirements, which can be found at

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