FAA Rules Could Keep Personal Drones Grounded

By  | 

Thinking of purchasing a drone for Christmas?

A new FAA rule could keep your new gift grounded.

Unmanned miniature aircraft systems are flying off the shelves this holiday season.

"Drones are really big this year," said Monte Brodersen, manager of Wheels Wings-n-Hobbies in Mandan.

Brodersen says he's sold more than 200 in the past couple months.

And it's estimated one million drones will be sold by Christmas.

Now if you're just a hobbyist you won't have to get a federal exemption for your drone this holiday season, unless you intend to use it commercially.

"For the most part people use these for personal purposes, just having fun and you don't need and kind of license for that. Now they do have a new rule for that where you will need to register yourself as a pilot of an unmanned aircraft," Brodersen said.

If a drone weighs more than half a pound you have to register it.

"There's hundreds of thousands of people who own these drones now that needs to register their drone with the FAA, and I think it costs $5 or something. They're going to waive it for the first 30 days I heard. So now everybody is going to be on the books with the FAA whether you're making money or not," said David Diebel, D&N Cinematics, who is a commercial drone user.

If you purchased a small unmanned aircraft system before Dec. 21 you must register it before Feb. 19.

Owners who made their purchase after Dec. 21 have to register before its first outdoor flight.

When operating your drone the FAA has these rules:

- Fly below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles
- Keep the aircraft within visual line of sight at all times
- Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations
- Don't fly within five miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying
- Don't fly near people or stadiums
- Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 pounds
- Don't be careless or reckless with your unmanned aircraft – you could be fined for endangering people or other aircraft

For more information on how to register your aircraft or general rules and regulations, visit the Federal Aviation Administration's website at faa.gov/uas/registration.