Drone Registry Deadline Is Friday

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If you own a drone that weighs more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, and you fly it outdoors, you are required to register it in the FAA's registry by this Friday. "Besides being required by law, registration provides an excellent opportunity to educate yourself if you are new to aviation, and it will help you become part of the safety culture that has been the hallmark of traditional aviation for more than a century," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. Of course if you're already a pilot or well versed in aviation lore, that won't excuse you. The one-time registration fee of $5 is good for three years, and one fee covers all the drones you own. New owners who buy drones after Friday must register before their first flight outdoors.

More than 342,000 people already have registered. Failure to register, the FAA says, could result in a civil penalty of up to $27,500, a criminal fine of up to $250,000, and/or imprisonment for up to three years. Owners of model aircraft have argued that they should not be required to use the drone registry, but the Academy of Model Aeronautics is now advising its members to comply with the law and register so they're not subject to federal penalties. Drone owners still are prohibited from using their drones for commercial purposes without express permission from the FAA. But last week, U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis and Cheri Bustos, both from Illinois, introduced an amendment to a federal bill that would let companies fly drones weighing less than 4.4 pounds for commercial purposes without FAA approval.