Do you have a drone on your wish list? There's some government red tape to be aware of.
Beginning Monday, owners of recreational drones must register their devices with the Federal Aviation Administration. FAA officials hope the process will ensure owners will learn how to properly use the technology.
"The vast majority of them will probably be in the hands of people who have very little experience in the national aviation system," FAA spokeswoman Lynn Lunsford said.
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Registering drones online is a way to make people read the safety requirements, which the FAA hopes will encourage them to use the drones responsibly.
Rules listed in the online application process include:
- I will be aware of FAA space requirements
- I will not fly directly over people
- I will not fly over stadiums and sports events
- I will not fly near emergency response efforts such as fires
- I will not fly near aircraft, especially near airports
- I will not fly under the influence
Lunsford said this new technology is a promising industry and hobby, but the FAA’s goal is to integrate the technology safely.
Registration applies to drones weighing between .55 and 55 pounds must be registered. Drones purchased before Dec. 21 must be registered by Feb. 19, 2016, while drones bought after Dec. 21 should be registered before the first flight outdoors.
Operators caught using their drones without registration could face heavy fines.
Registration costs $5 and can be completed online. The fee will be waived for 30 days after the law goes into effect, through Jan. 20.
Some aviation experts doubt the new rule will help increase safety for unmanned aircraft.
"In my opinion, the bottom line of registering these drones is almost useless," said aviation consultant Denny Kelly "It's a start and a step in the right direction."
HobbyTown USA's Tony White, who has been flying UAVs for decades said he thinks FAA registration is the first step toward licensing and certification, even for recreational drone users.
"We are in the period of transition," he said. "This is just like when airplanes were brand new."
Online: FAA - Aircraft Registry
NBC 5's Ellen Bryan contributed to this report.