US registered drone numbers near 300,000

More than 250,000 drone owners registered their remote-controlled aircraft with the United States Federal Aviation Administration during the first month, according to the aviation agency.

The federal database of drone ownership was established to better track them if the aircraft is flown irresponsibly or crashes. The registration, which began December 21, refunded the $5 application fee during the first month.

“I am pleased the public responded to our call to register,” said transportation secretary Anthony Foxx, who added that drone users are responsible for helping keep airspace safe.

The drone owner must register a name, a physical address and an email address with the FAA. Drones are marked with unique numbers. New purchases should be registered before the first flight and previous owners have until February 19.

The rule applies to owners who are at least 13 years old and have aircraft that weigh at least 9 ounces.

Penalties for failing to register could reach $27,500 in civil fines and $250,000 and three years in prison for criminal penalties. But FAA officials say they are trying to educate drone owners about how to fly safely, rather than punish owners, unless there is an egregious incident.

“The registration numbers we’re seeing so far are very encouraging,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said.  “We’re working hard to build on this early momentum and ensure everyone understands the registration requirement.”

The FAA is working on an online registration system available for commercial operators to be operational by March 21.

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