In response to a question regarding the registration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) that will not be flown in national airspace in the near future, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has noted that these aircraft do not require immediate registration.
In a public document available from the FAA’s website, John Rusinko of Carmel, N.Y., wrote to the FAA in December to inquire about the registration of model aircraft that he does not expect to operate for another two or three years.
Under the FAA’s registration rules, owners who previously operated a UAS exclusively as a model aircraft prior to Dec. 21, 2015, must have registered no later than Feb. 19. Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after Dec. 21, 2015, must register before operating the first flight outdoors.
“I have several model aircraft that are over 0.55 lbs. and have been flown before December 21, 2015, some as recently as this past summer; however, I am not currently flying them,” states the Dec. 17 letter, which adds that Rusinko has been sticking to flying micro UAS that are under 0.55 lbs. and thus, per the FAA’s standards, do not need to be registered.
Rusinko then asks if he will need to register his larger model aircraft, which weigh more than 0.55 lbs., even though he does not “foresee flying them in the near future.”
In a letter dated March 21, the FAA clarifies, “A small unmanned aircraft owner need only register aircraft operated in the national airspace system.”
“Thus,” the agency continues, “you need not immediately register those small unmanned aircraft that you do not anticipate flying for two to three years,” even though Rusinko said he did, indeed, fly them before Dec. 21.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta recently announced in a speech that nearly 400,000 UAS operators had registered through the federal system. The agency has said failure to register could result in a civil penalty of up to $27,500, a criminal fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to three years.