FAA Requiring Visible Drone ID Numbers

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The FAA has posted a new rule requiring owners of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS/drones) to display an FAA-issued registration number on an outside surface of their aircraft. Previously, drone registration numbers could be placed in an interior compartment as long as that compartment was accessible without using tools. The new rule will not change the process for registering drones and, beyond requiring that the number can “be seen upon visual inspection of the aircraft’s exterior,” doesn’t specify an external location for the registration number.

According to the FAA, the rule change stems from concerns expressed by “law enforcement officials and the FAA’s interagency security partners” that current UAS registration display practices don’t address “the risk a concealed explosive device might pose to first responders upon opening a compartment to find a drone’s registration number.”

The new rule was issued as an interim final rule and was not previously open to public comment. “In this case,” the FAA said, “the agency has determined the importance of mitigating the risk to first responders outweighs the minimal inconvenience this change may impose on small drone owners, and justifies implementation without a prior public comment period.” Now that it has been published, the rule, which is scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 25, will be open for commentsuntil March 15, 2019.