Starting December 21, drone aircraft enthusiasts age 13 or older will have official status with the Federal Aviation Administration. Owners of small drones – those weighing between half a pound and 55 pounds and used for non-commercial purposes – will need to register as aviators with the FAA. The registration is free, at least for the first 30 days, and it can be done online.
Drone operators only need to register once, even if they own more than one of the unmanned aircraft. Current owners will need to register by February 19, but any which are purchased after December 21 will need to register before their first flight. According to the FAA, the reason for creating a registration process is to enable the agency to work more easily with users on operating their drones safely. A growing number of close encounters between manned aircraft and unmanned drones have been reported, particularly near major airports.