On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said it was temporarily suspending online registration of drones for two nights to perform website maintenance. The halt was called for good reason: More than 45,000 drones were registered since the agency opened registrations the previous day.
Not surprisingly then, the agency is bracing itself for a deluge of activity after Christmas later this week (it’s estimated that as many as 400,000 drones will be sold during the holidays) and the FAA preparing its website to handle that. According to the FAA, it received a small number of reports of performance issues already, and has requested its website maintenance provider tackle these before the holiday.
Earlier this fall, the FAA said that drones weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds, including payload such as add-on cameras, must be registered with the agency. Existing owners of drones will have until February 19 to register their aircraft, while those purchased since it opened registrations on Monday have to do so before they take their first flight. Civil penalties for failing to register a drone could be as high as $27,500, and criminal penalties could include fines up to $250,000 and a three-year prison sentence, according to the FAA.
Despite much protest, the agency has set a $5 registration fee for drones, though it will waive it during the first 30 days after registrations open.