Drones are set to be the hottest tech toys this Christmas, but new rules in the US and Ireland will mean that from 21 December all unmanned vehicles over a certain weight will have to be registered or hobbyists could be hit with hefty fines.
Last night (14 December), the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) announced the compulsory registration of drones that weigh more than .55 pounds and, later this week, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) will announce similar measures for drones weighing more than 1kg.
The move comes as this Christmas drones look set to be the most highly-prized presents to fly under the Christmas tree.
But these new regulations means kids and grown-up hobbyists who receive the aeronautical wonders will have to register them with their respective aviation authorities if they live in Ireland or the US.
The new rules from the FAA in the US require drone pilots to register all uncrewed aircraft that weigh more than 250 grams (half a pound) but fewer than 55 pounds.
Failure to register an aircraft could result in civil penalties of up to $27,500 or criminal penalties of up to $250,000.
“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
“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.”
Model aircraft and drone owners have been given until 9 February to register their aircraft.
Owners of uncrewed aircraft purchased in the US after 21 December must be registered before the first outdoor flight occurs.
The FAA has created a new streamlined web-based system to enable fast and easy registration.
Drone registration to begin in Ireland
In Ireland, there are more than 4,000 drone pilots and this number is set to increase this Christmas as drones become one of the hottest tech gadgets.
From 21 December all drones over 1kg must be registered with the IAA.
A briefing will take place this week in Dublin attended by the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe TD as well as Ralph James, director of Safety Regulation at the IAA.
Ireland has taken a proactive role in the fast-emerging area and is currently one of only a handful of EU member states that has legislation governing the use of drones.
Video interview with Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe on legislation governing the use of drones
Drone pilot image via Shutterstock