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[Breaking News] FAA Opens Online Commercial sUAS Registration

BY Alan Perlman
31 March 2016

It’s been a big week for the commercial sUAS industry here in the United States.

On Tuesday, the FAA doubled the “blanket” COA altitude from 200 feet to 400 feet, and just this morning, they’re now bringing the commercial aircraft registration process online.

Why is this a big deal?

Because up until today, sUAS pilots would use the FAA’s legacy Form 8050-1 registration process out of Oklahoma City, OK. They’d have to fill out a paper form, mail it in, and wait a few weeks to hear back.

That paper process still exists, but only if you’re required to do so under the following guidelines:

  • Your Aircraft weighs more than 55 lbs
  • You intend to operate your aircraft outside of the United States
  • Your aircraft is owned by a trustee
  • The aircraft owner uses a voting trust to meet U.S. Citizenship requirements
  • You are required by a Section 333 Exemption or a certificate of waiver or authorization

Meaning, for the vast majority of commercial sUAS pilots going through or planning to go through the Section 333 Exemption process, it’s now MUCH easier to register your aircraft.


faa commerial drone registration

Note: Those owners who already have registered in the legacy system do not have to re-register in the new system.

This is a huge step forward for the sUAS industry. Congratulations to the FAA for continuing to improve the regulatory environment. I look forward to more updates over the next few months.

I went ahead and included the full press release below, which you can also read here.

alan signature

Thursday, March 31 – Starting today, owners of small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) used for commercial, public and other non-model aircraft operations will be able to use the FAA’s new, streamlined, web-based registration process to register their aircraft. The web-based process will significantly speed up registration for a variety of commercial, public use and other users. Registration for those users is $5, the same low fee that model aircraft owners pay.

“Registration is an important tool to help us educate aircraft owners and safely integrate this exciting new technology into the same airspace as other aircraft operations,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

All owners of small UAS used for purposes other than as model aircraft must currently obtain a 333 exemption, a public certificate of authorization or other FAA authorization to legally operate, in addition to registering their aircraft. Before today, the FAA required all non-hobby unmanned aircraft owners to register their aircraft with the FAA’s legacy aircraft registry in Oklahoma City, OK.

Those owners who already have registered in the legacy system do not have to re-register in the new system. However, the FAA is encouraging new owners who are registering for the first time to use the new, web-based registration system. Owners who register under the new system can easily access the records for all of the aircraft they have registered by logging into their on-line account. Small UAS owners who have registered under the web-based system who intend to use their aircraft for purposes other than as model aircraft will also need to re-register to provide aircraft specific information.

The FAA first opened up the web-based registration for model unmanned aircraft owners on Dec. 21, 2015. The agency is expanding that existing website to accommodate owners of aircraft used for purposes other than model aircraft. This registration process includes additional information on the manufacturer, model and serial number, in addition to the owner’s physical and email addresses. Like the model aircraft registration process, a certificate is good for three years, but each certificate covers only one aircraft.

Register here.

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