The FAA Has Officially Changed How You Must Display Your Registration Numbers


Photo Credit: The Federal Aviation Administration

Effective February 25th, 2019, The FAA is requiring the way small drone pilots must identify their FAA-registered drones. Starting then, small drones must fly with their FAA-issued registration number on their outside surface. Originally, pilots were only required to have their unique registration marking "readily accessible and maintained in readable condition," which allowed for some flexibility: Pilots could have their registration numbers inside the drone, such as in the battery compartment or anywhere that could be accessed without the use of tools. However, this will no longer be the case. Meanwhile, the original acceptable methods of external marking are unchanged, and the new rule does not specify where exactly to place the markings, only that it be seen on the exterior of the drone.

Currently, the new requirement is an Interim Final Rule titled “Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft”. An Interim Final Rule is a rule that can be commented on while simultaneously being in effect. Their purpose is to allow for immediate action without a prior public comment period. In this case, The FAA wanted to immediately ensure the safety of first responders. There are concerns about the potential dangers present to first responders who encounter a drone and may open it to try and find a registration number. "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." Having the registration number clearly visible on the outside of the drone allows security personnel to easily identify the drone as FAA-registered without the risk of handling it.

This Interim Final Rule will have a 30 day comment period that will end on March 19, 2019. Based on the public's comments, the FAA will then determine whether or not to change the rule's current provisions. Thus, if you have any concerns or criticisms regarding the implementation of this change, feel free to let the FAA know. On the rule's regulation.gov page, the FAA has provided a summary of the rule and an explanation for its immediate adoption along with other important information that you can read before commenting. Comments on regulation.gov are due by March 15, 2019 at 11:59 PM ET.

Photo Credit: Wix Photo Library


I am a writer and an artist based in Georgia. Specializing in illustration, graphic design, and video art, I love to explore the new ways technology intersects with art. I think drones have done amazing things for photography and video art, making what would previously be costly and difficult more accessible. As a complete novice, it was only recently that I saw what independent artists could do with their drones, and I continue to be impressed by the sights that drones are able to explore and the images they can capture. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron

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