- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Drones registered with the Federal Aviation Administration have exceeded the number of manned aircraft on record with the government, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said on Monday.

More than 325,000 people have registered unmanned aerial vehicles with the FAA since Dec. 21, 2015, eclipsing the 320,000 or so piloted aircraft on file with the agency, Mr. Huerta said at a drone summit in Washington, D.C., on Monday during which he applauded the agency’s recent efforts to keep statistics on the surging number of privately owned drones.

“The speed with which we were able to roll this out is a testament to the invaluable input we received from the diverse task force of stakeholders we brought together to work on this issue,” The Hill quoted Mr. Huerta as saying at the event.

“It’s proof that when government and industry partner, we can innovate, cut through red tape and use technology to tackle emerging risks,” he added.

The Department of Transportation launched an online portal in December where drones weighing between 9 ounces and 55 pounds can be registered with the FAA. Owners have until Feb. 19 to register their devices without risking penalty, and new drones must be on file with the agency before they’re allowed in the air.

“You enter basic information — name, address and email address — into our online system, and read and acknowledge our basic safety guidelines,” Mr. Huerta said at Monday’s summit. “Then you pay $5 and get a registration number that’s valid for all of your unmanned aircraft for three years.”

Because owners can list more than one drone with each entry, Mr. Huerta said that the actual number of unmanned aerial vehicles registered for flying in U.S. airspace may be even higher than the more than 325,000 registrations on file.

Drone owners who fail to register their aircraft are subject to being fined up to $27,000 and risk being sentenced to as many as three years in prison if caught operating unmanned devices not on file with the FAA.

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