The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has announced that it will require all operators of drones weighing more than 1 kg (approximately 2.2 lbs.) to register their aircraft.
Like the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the IAA is commencing the registration requirement on Dec. 21. However, unlike the FAA, the IAA has set a significantly higher weight threshold; the FAA is ordering registration for drones weighing more than 0.55 lbs. (approximately 0.25 kg, or one-fourth of the IAA’s threshold). For both the U.S. and Ireland, registration applies to drones up to 25 kg (55 lbs.).
The IAA says there an estimated 4,000-5,000 drones already in use in Ireland; therefore, the agency says it has taken a proactive role in the emerging area and is currently one of only a handful of European Union member states that have legislation governing the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
According to the IAA, the registration will be a simple, two-step process. The registrant must be at least 16 years old, and a nominal fee will apply from February 2016. However, like the FAA, the IAA is waiving the fee until then in order to encourage early registration.
The operator can register an unlimited number of drones, and he or she will receive one registration number.
The IAA also encourages all drone operators to take part in training courses, available through a number of approved drone training organizations.
According to Ralph James, IAA’s director of safety regulation, UAS registration has been made mandatory in order to help the agency monitor the sector in the years ahead.
“We would strongly encourage drone operators to register with us as quickly as possible, to complete a training course and to become aware of their responsibilities,” explains James. “People operating drones must do so in safe and responsible manner and in full compliance with the new regulations.”
Paschal Donohoe, Teachta Dála, minister for transport, tourism and sport, states, “Tremendous potential exists for [the UAS] sector, and Ireland is at the forefront of its development. The speedy response by the IAA to this fast developing aviation area will make sure that drones are properly regulated and registered for use. As a result, Ireland is well placed to exploit the drone sector and to ensure industry growth in this area.”