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FAA sets start date for new drone regulations

Posted at 10:39 PM, Dec 14, 2015

On the heels of an alarming study spotlighting the danger drones pose to commercial aircraft, the FAA on Monday announced new regulations requiring drone registration in an effort to keep track of soaring ownership.

The online registration would apply to owners of small drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, including payloads such as on-board cameras, according to a statement by the FAA.

"Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

"Registration gives us an opportunity to work with these users to operate their unmanned aircraft safely. I'm excited to welcome these new aviators into the culture of safety and responsibility that defines American innovation."

The new rules would require drone owners to pay a $5 registration fee. Penalties go up to $27,000 for civil violations, $250,000 for criminal acts with up to three years behind bars. 

People, 13 and older, who purchased drones before Dec. 21, 2015, must register the device by Feb. 19, 2016

The FAA expects parents to register for younger children.

"Any drone operator that is legitimate, always practices safety first," said Thomas Duran, Creative Director for TD Media.

TD media is a video production company based in Mesa, and recently, the company added a drone to its video arsenal.

Duran says, he's been keeping up with the evolving changes for drone regulations.

"You have to be on top of it, just to make sure you're obeying the rules and you are practicing the safety stuff," explained Duran.

One Scottsdale based aviation expert questions how the FAA will enforce the new regulations

"I don't know how... there's going to be hundreds and hundreds of thousands of these out there, in the next few years," said aviation expert Art Rosen. 

The rule changes come on the heels of a Bard College report that detailed how risky the drone boom has become, highlighting hundreds of close encounters between drones and manned aircrafts in U.S. airspace.

According to the study, of the 927 incidents recorded, 327 between December 2013 and September 2015 posed a proximity danger, which occurs when an unmanned aircraft gets within 500 feet of a plane or helicopter or when a pilot deems a drone as too close and dangerous.

The FAA prohibits the use of unmanned aircraft within 5 miles of any airport within the U.S. without permission from air traffic control. 

The study, released Friday, provided an overview of drones wandering into flight paths.