FAA Mandating Exterior Registration Numbers on Drones

 - February 13, 2019, 1:09 PM

Effective for flights starting after February 23, owners of small drones will have to begin displaying their FAA registration numbers on an outside surface of their aircraft, the agency announced today. When the FAA first required registration of small drones in 2015, it mandated that the registration marking could be placed in an enclosed compartment, such as a battery case, if it could be accessed without the use of tools.

Subsequently, law enforcement officials and the FAA’s interagency security partners have expressed concerns about the risk a concealed explosive device might pose to first responders upon opening a compartment to find a drone’s registration number. The agency believes the new requirement will “enhance safety and security by allowing a person to view the unique identifier directly, without handling the drone.”

The FAA has issued this requirement as an interim final rule with comments due by March 15. The agency said it “will then review any submissions to determine if the provisions of the final rule should be changed.”  

Separately, the FAA has also issued two new notices of proposed rulemaking to allow drones to fly routinely at night and over people without obtaining a waiver and to further integrate them safely into the nation’s airspace. The comment period for these proposals ends April 15.