Every drone owner must register with the Federal Aviation Administration or face hefty penalties. Fred Katayama reports.
The idea of unregistered drone doesn't fly with regulators. Starting Monday, current owners must register their unmanned aircraft with the Federal Aviation Administration by February 19th. Those buying drones after December 21st have to register before their first outdoor flight. The FAA says online registration will cost five dollars after a free introductory period ends in thirty days. Those failing to register could face civil fines of up to $27,500, criminal penalties of up to $250,000, and three years in prison. The FAA wrote the new rule after a series of drone flights near airports and crowded venues raised safety concerns. It's taking action before Christmas because it expects unmanned aircraft to be popular gifts. Aviation attorney and regulatory consultant Loretta Alkalay says the new rule won't fix the problem and won't increase accountability. She says registration numbers will only be visible if drones crash and law enforcement officials find them. She also says people will hesitate to register because that will make their names and addresses public.