[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 241 (Wednesday, December 16, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 78593-78648]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-31750]



[[Page 78593]]

Vol. 80

Wednesday,

No. 241

December 16, 2015

Part VI





Department of Transportation





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Federal Aviation Administration





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14 CFR Parts 1, 45, 47, et al.





Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft; 
Final Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 80 , No. 241 / Wednesday, December 16, 2015 / 
Rules and Regulations

[[Page 78594]]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Parts 1, 45, 47, 48, 91, and 375

[Docket No.: FAA-2015-7396; Amdt. Nos. 1-68, 45-30, 47-30, 48-1, 91-
338]
RIN 2120-AK82


Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Interim final rule.

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SUMMARY: This action provides an alternative, streamlined and simple, 
web-based aircraft registration process for the registration of small 
unmanned aircraft, including small unmanned aircraft operated as model 
aircraft, to facilitate compliance with the statutory requirement that 
all aircraft register prior to operation. It also provides a simpler 
method for marking small unmanned aircraft that is more appropriate for 
these aircraft. This action responds to public comments received 
regarding the proposed registration process in the Operation and 
Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft notice of proposed rulemaking, 
the request for information regarding unmanned aircraft system 
registration, and the recommendations from the Unmanned Aircraft System 
Registration Task Force. The Department encourages persons to 
participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments on or before the 
closing date for comments. The Department will consider all comments 
received before the closing date and make any necessary amendments as 
appropriate.

DATES: This rule is effective December 21, 2015. Comments must be 
received on or before January 15, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-7396 
using any of the following methods:
    Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and 
follow the online instructions for sending your comments 
electronically.
    Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. Department of 
Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12-140, West 
Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in 
Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.
    Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at 202-493-2251.
    Privacy: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments 
from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts 
these comments, without edit, including any personal information the 
commenter provides, to http://www.regulations.gov, as described in the 
system of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 
http://www.dot.gov/privacy.
    Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at 
http://www.regulations.gov at any time. Follow the online instructions 
for accessing the docket or go to the Docket Operations in Room W12-140 
of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Earl Lawrence, Director, FAA UAS 
Integration Office, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; 
telephone (202) 267-6556; email [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Table of Contents

I. Executive Summary
    A. Purpose of the Regulatory Action
    B. Summary of the Major Provisions
    C. Summary of Costs and Benefits
II. Compliance
III. Good Cause for Immediate Adoption
IV. Comments Invited
V. Authority for this Rulemaking
VI. Background
    A. Statutory Requirements Related to Aircraft Registration
    B. Regulatory Requirements Pertaining to Aircraft Registration 
and Identification
    C. Related FAA and DOT Actions
    1. Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft 
Systems notice of proposed rulemaking
    2. Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration 
Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for 
Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UAS
    3. Registration Task Force (Task Force)
VII. Discussion of the Interim Final Rule
    A. Applicability
    1. Small unmanned aircraft
    2. Public Aircraft Operations
    3. Trusts and voting trusts
    4. Operations in U.S. Airspace
    B. Definitions
    1. Unmanned Aircraft
    2. Small Unmanned Aircraft
    3. Small Unmanned Aircraft System (small UAS)
    4. Model aircraft
    C. Exclusion from the Requirement to Register
    D. Eligibility to register
    1. Citizenship
    2. Commercial activity conducted by non-U.S. citizens
    3. Minimum Age to Register
    E. Registration Required Prior to Operation
    1. Registration Prior to Operation
    2. Registration of each aircraft
    F. Registration Process
    1. Design of Registration System
    2. Web-Based Registration Application
    3. Information required
    4. Fee for registration
    G. Certificate of Aircraft Registration
    H. Registration Marking
    I. Transfer of Ownership
    J. Education
    K. Compliance Philosophy and Enforcement
    L. Privacy
    M. Other Methods To Encourage Accountability and Responsible Use 
of the National Airspace System
    N. Legal Implications of the Registration Requirement
    1. Comments addressing Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and 
Reform Act of 2012
    2. Comments addressing requirements under the Administrative 
Procedure Act
    3. Comments addressing other legal issues with the proposed 
registration requirement
    O. Alternatives to Registration
    P. Comments Beyond the Scope
    Q. Miscellaneous
VIII. Section-by-Section Discussion of the Interim Final Rule
IX. Regulatory Notices and Analyses
    A. Regulatory Evaluation
    B. Regulatory Flexibility Determination
    C. International Trade Impact Assessment
    D. Unfunded Mandates Assessment
    E. Paperwork Reduction Act
    F. International Compatibility and Cooperation
    G. Environmental Analysis
X. Executive Order Determinations
    A. Executive Order 13132, Federalism
    B. Executive Order 13211, Regulations that Significantly Affect 
Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use
    C. Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation
XI. How To Obtain Additional Information
    A. Rulemaking Documents
    B. Comments Submitted to the Docket
    C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

I. Executive Summary

A. Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    This interim final rule (IFR) provides an alternative process that 
small unmanned aircraft owners may use to comply with the statutory 
requirements for aircraft operations. As provided in the clarification 
of these statutory requirements and request for further information 
issued October 19, 2015, 49 U.S.C. 44102 requires aircraft to be 
registered prior to operation. See 80 FR 63912 (October 22, 2015). 
Currently, the only registration and aircraft identification process 
available to

[[Page 78595]]

comply with the statutory aircraft registration requirement for all 
aircraft owners, including small unmanned aircraft, is the paper-based 
system set forth in 14 CFR parts 45 and 47. As the Secretary and the 
Administrator noted in the clarification issued October 19, 2015 and 
further analyzed in the regulatory evaluation accompanying this 
rulemaking, the Department and the FAA have determined that this 
process is too onerous for small unmanned aircraft owners and the FAA. 
Thus, after considering public comments and the recommendations from 
the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Registration Task Force, the 
Department and the FAA have developed an alternative process, provided 
by this IFR (14 CFR part 48), for registration and marking available 
only to small unmanned aircraft owners. Small unmanned aircraft owners 
may use this process to comply with the statutory requirement to 
register their aircraft prior to operating in the National Airspace 
System (NAS).
    The estimate for 2015 sales indicates that 1.6 million small 
unmanned aircraft intended to be used as model aircraft are expected to 
be sold this year (including approximately 50 percent of that total 
during the fourth quarter of 2015). With this rapid proliferation of 
new sUAS will come an unprecedented number of new sUAS owners and 
operators who are new to aviation and thus have no understanding of the 
NAS or the safety requirements for operating in the NAS.
    The risk of unsafe operation will increase as more small unmanned 
aircraft enter the NAS. Registration will provide a means by which to 
quickly identify these small unmanned aircraft in the event of an 
incident or accident involving the sUAS. Registration of small unmanned 
aircraft also provides an immediate and direct opportunity for the 
agency to educate sUAS owners on safety requirements before they begin 
operating.
    All owners of small unmanned aircraft, including small unmanned 
aircraft operated as a model aircraft in accordance with the statutory 
requirements for model aircraft operations in section 336 of the FAA 
Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Public Law 112-95, may take 
advantage of the new registration process in part 48. The part 47 
paper-based registration process will remain available for owners to 
register small unmanned aircraft due to financing requirements, 
ownership arrangements, or intent to operate a sUAS outside of the 
United States. For more information regarding both the statutory 
requirements for model aircraft operations and the authorizations that 
may be needed for operations that do not satisfy the requirements for 
model aircraft, please consult the materials available on the FAA Web 
site, including the Know Before You Fly materials, available at 
www.faa.gov/uas.

B. Summary of the Major Provisions

    Table 1 provides a brief summary of the major provisions of this 
IFR.

                                      Table 1--Summary of Major Provisions.
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                 Issue                                        Interim final rule requirement
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Unmanned aircraft covered by the         Unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds and more than 0.55
 registration requirement.                pounds (250 grams) on takeoff, including everything that is on board
                                          or otherwise attached to the aircraft and operated outdoors in the
                                          national airspace system must register.
                                         Sec.   48.15
Timing of registration.................  Owners of small unmanned aircraft must register their aircraft prior to
                                          operation of the sUAS.
                                         Sec.   48.15
Compliance dates.......................  December 21, 2015
                                          Any small unmanned aircraft to be used exclusively as model
                                          aircraft that have never been operated.
                                          Small unmanned aircraft to be used in authorized operations as
                                          other than model aircraft continue to use part 47 registration
                                          process.
                                         February 19, 2016
                                          Small unmanned aircraft to be used exclusively as model
                                          aircraft and have been operated by their owner prior to December 21,
                                          2015.
                                         March 31, 2016
                                          Small unmanned aircraft to be used in authorized operations
                                          other than as model aircraft continue to use part 47 registration
                                          process or use part 48 process.
                                         Sec.   48.5
Minimum age to register a small          Persons 13 years of age and older are permitted to use the part 48
 unmanned aircraft.                       process to register a small unmanned aircraft. If the owner is less
                                          than 13 years of age, then the small unmanned aircraft must be
                                          registered by a person who is at least 13 years of age.
                                         Sec.   48.25
Registration platform..................  Registration will occur through an online web-based system.
                                         Sec.   48.100(c)
Registration number....................  Each small unmanned aircraft intended to be used other than as a model
                                          aircraft and owned by individuals or other persons, including
                                          corporations, will be issued a Certificate of Aircraft Registration
                                          with a unique registration number.
                                         Sec.   48.110(a)
                                         A Certificate of Aircraft Registration and registration number issued
                                          to an individual intending to use small unmanned aircraft exclusively
                                          as model aircraft, constitutes registration for those small unmanned
                                          aircraft owned by that individual that are intended to be used
                                          exclusively as model aircraft.
                                         Sec.   48.115(a)
Registration information...............  Required information from persons registering small unmanned aircraft
                                          intended to be used as other than model aircraft.
                                          Applicant name or name of authorized representative.
                                          Applicant physical address (and mailing address if different
                                          than physical address).
                                          Applicant e-mail address or email address of authorized
                                          representative.
                                          Aircraft manufacturer and model name, and serial number, if
                                          available.
                                          Other information as required by the Administrator.
                                         Required information from individuals registering small unmanned
                                          aircraft intended to be used exclusively as model aircraft.
                                          Applicant name.
                                          Applicant physical address (and mailing address if different
                                          than physical address).

[[Page 78596]]

 
                                          Applicant e-mail address.
                                          Other information as required by the Administrator.
                                         Sec.   48.100
Registration fee.......................  Persons intending to use the small unmanned aircraft other than as
                                          model aircraft.
                                          $5 to register each aircraft.
                                         Individuals intending to use the small unmanned aircraft exclusively as
                                          model aircraft.
                                          $5 to register an individual's fleet of small unmanned
                                          aircraft.
                                         Sec.   48.30
Delivery of Certificate of Aircraft      Upon completion of the registration process, the Certificate of
 Registration.                            Aircraft registration will be delivered to the aircraft owner via the
                                          same web-based platform used to register the aircraft.
                                         Sec.   48.100(d)
Information contained on the             Small unmanned aircraft owner name, issue date and registration number.
 Certificate of Aircraft Registration.
Registration renewal and fee...........  A Certificate of Aircraft Registration issued in accordance with part
                                          48 is effective once the registration process is complete and must be
                                          renewed every three years.
                                         The fee for renewal of a Certificate of Aircraft Registration is $5.
                                         Sec.  Sec.   48.110(c), 48.115(c)
Marking................................  All small unmanned aircraft must display a unique identifier.
                                          A unique identifier is the FAA-issued registration number.
                                          The Administrator may authorize the use of the small unmanned
                                          aircraft serial number.
                                         Sec.   48.200
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C. Summary of Costs and Benefits

    In order to implement the new streamlined, web-based system 
described in this IFR, the FAA will incur costs to develop, implement, 
and maintain the system. Small UAS owners will require time to register 
and mark their aircraft, and that time has a cost. The total of 
government and registrant resource cost for small unmanned aircraft 
registration and marking under this new system is $56 million ($46 
million present value at 7 percent) through 2020.
    In evaluating the impact of this interim final rule, we compare the 
costs and benefits of the IFR to a baseline consistent with existing 
practices: for modelers, the exercise of discretion by FAA (not 
requiring registration) and continued broad public outreach and 
educational campaign, and for non-modelers, registration via part 47 in 
the paper-based system. Given the time to register aircraft under the 
paper-based system and the projected number of sUAS aircraft, the FAA 
estimates the cost to the government and non-modelers would be about 
$383 million. The resulting cost savings to society from this IFR 
equals the cost of this baseline policy ($383 million) minus the cost 
of this IFR ($56 million), or about $327 million ($259 million in 
present value at a 7 percent discount rate). These cost savings are the 
net quantified benefits of this IFR.

II. Compliance

    Any small unmanned aircraft operated exclusively as a model 
aircraft by its current owner prior to December 21, 2015 must be 
registered no later than February 19, 2016. The delayed compliance date 
provides a period of time to bring the existing population of small 
unmanned aircraft owners into compliance as it is not reasonable to 
expect that all existing small unmanned aircraft owners will register 
their aircraft immediately upon the effective date of this rule.
    All other small unmanned aircraft intended to be used exclusively 
as model aircraft (i.e., for hobby and recreational purposes in 
accordance with the requirements of section 336 of Pub. L. 112-95)--
newly purchased or never before used--must be registered prior to the 
first operation outdoors. Thus, any small unmanned aircraft purchased, 
received as a gift, or otherwise acquired on or after December 21, 
2015, and intended to be used exclusively as a model aircraft must be 
registered prior to operation.
    Currently, small unmanned aircraft operated as other than model 
aircraft (i.e., for operations for non-hobby or non-recreational 
purposes or as a public aircraft) must continue to complete the part 47 
registration process in accordance with the conditions and limitations 
of exemptions issued under section 333 of Public Law 112-95. As 
exemplified by the growing number of petitions for exemption, the 
agency expects to see a continued high level of demand for registration 
of aircraft used for purposes other than model aircraft once the 
Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems notice 
of proposed rulemaking (the ``sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM'') 
is finalized.\1\ The small unmanned aircraft registration system 
established by this final rule will be able to receive and process 
applications for Certificates of Aircraft Registration for aircraft 
operating pursuant to an exemption issued under section 333 of Public 
Law 112-95 beginning March 31, 2016. Thus, beginning on March 31, 2016, 
the agency will allow small unmanned aircraft operating pursuant to an 
exemption to use the new part 48 registration requirements in place of 
part 47, as well as aircraft used in operations authorized under the 
sUAS Operation and Certification rulemaking, once the rule is 
finalized.
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    \1\ 80 FR 9544 (Feb. 23, 2015).
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III. Good Cause for Immediate Adoption

    Section 553(b)(3)(B) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (5 
U.S.C.) authorizes agencies to dispense with notice and comment 
procedures for rules when the agency for ``good cause'' finds that 
those procedures are ``impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to the 
public interest.'' Under this section, an agency, upon finding good 
cause, may issue a final rule without seeking comment prior to the 
rulemaking.
    The Secretary and the Administrator recently affirmed that all 
unmanned aircraft, including model aircraft, are aircraft consistent 
with congressional direction in Title III, Subtitle B of Public Law 
112-95 and the existing definition of aircraft in title 49 of the 
United States Code. 49 U.S.C. 40102. As such, in accordance with 49 
U.S.C 44101(a) and

[[Page 78597]]

as further prescribed in 14 CFR part 47, registration is required prior 
to operation. See 80 FR 63912, 63913 (October 22, 2015). Aircraft 
registration is necessary to ensure personal accountability among all 
users of the NAS. See id. With the current unprecedented proliferation 
of new sUAS, registration allows the FAA a direct and immediate 
opportunity to educate sUAS owners. Aircraft registration also allows 
the FAA and law enforcement agencies to address non-compliance by 
providing the means by which to identify an aircraft's owner and 
operator.
    Congress has also directed the FAA to ``develop plans and policy 
for the use of the navigable airspace and assign by regulation or order 
the use of the airspace necessary to ensure the safety of aircraft and 
the efficient use of airspace.'' 49 U.S.C. 40103(b)(1). Congress has 
further directed the FAA to ``prescribe air traffic regulations on the 
flight of aircraft (including regulations on safe altitudes)'' for 
navigating, protecting, and identifying aircraft; protecting 
individuals and property on the ground; using the navigable airspace 
efficiently; and preventing collision between aircraft, between 
aircraft and land or water vehicles, and between aircraft and airborne 
objects. 49 U.S.C. 40103(b)(2).
    The FAA estimates that in calendar year 2014, 200,000 small 
unmanned aircraft were operated in the NAS in model aircraft 
operations. During this period, the FAA received 238 reports of 
potentially unsafe UAS operations. The estimate for 2015 sales 
indicates that 1.6 million small unmanned aircraft intended to be used 
as model aircraft are expected to be sold this year (including 
approximately 50 percent of that total during the fourth quarter of 
2015).
    For 2016, the FAA estimates sales of more than 600,000 sUAS 
intended to be used for commercial purposes.\2\ Additionally, as 
evidenced by recent FAA enforcement action against SkyPan 
International,\3\ the Department and the FAA have become aware that 
there may be commercial operators who may be risking operating without 
the requisite authority.
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    \2\ This forecast is based on a largely unconstrained operating 
environment.
    \3\ FAA Press Release, ``FAA Proposes $1.9 Million Civil Penalty 
Against SkyPan International for Allegedly Unauthorized Unmanned 
Aircraft Operations,'' available at http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=19555.
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    Since February 2015, reports of potentially unsafe UAS operations 
have more than doubled, and many of these reports indicated that the 
risk to manned aviation or people and property on the ground was 
immediate. For example, the agency has received reports of unmanned 
aircraft at high altitudes in congested airspace, unmanned aircraft 
operations near passenger-carrying aircraft or major airports,\4\ and 
interfering with emergency response operations such as efforts to 
combat wildfires.\5\ As recently as August 2015, the FAA investigated 
reports by four pilots who spotted an unmanned aircraft flying between 
eight and thirteen miles from the approach to Newark Liberty 
International Airport.\6\ The FAA also investigated a similar incident 
at John F. Kennedy International Airport in August.\7\ The risk of 
unsafe operation will increase as more small unmanned aircraft enter 
the NAS, and are flown by individuals who have little to no knowledge 
of airspace restrictions or safety implications.
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    \4\ See, e.g., Keith Laing, Feds investigating drone sighting 
near Newark airport, The Hill, Aug. 10, 2015, http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/250731-feds-investigating-drone-sighting-near-newark-airport; FAA Investigating Close Calls with Drones Near JFK 
Airport, Albany Business Review, Nov. 20, 2014, available at 2014 
WLNR 32783307.
    \5\ See, e.g., Associated Press, Drones Interfering with 
Emergency Wildfire Responders, CBSNEWS.com, Aug. 10, 2015, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/drones-interfering-with-emergency-wildfire-responders (``The U.S. Forest Service has tallied 13 wildfires in 
which suspected drones interfered with firefighting aircraft this 
year . . . up from four fires last year . . . .); Polly Mosendz, 
Drones Interfere With Firefighters Battling California Wildfire, 
Newsweek, June 26, 2015, http://www.newsweek.com/drones-interfere-firefighters-battling-california-wildfire-347774.
    \6\ See Keith Laing, Feds investigating drone sighting near 
Newark airport, The Hill, Aug. 10, 2015, http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/250731-feds-investigating-drone-sighting-near-newark-airport.
    \7\ See FAA Investigating Close Calls with Drones Near JFK 
Airport, Albany Business Review, Nov. 20, 2014, available at 2014 
WLNR 32783307.
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    Over the past several months, the reports of unauthorized and 
potentially unsafe UAS operations have escalated at an increasing rate. 
There is good reason to believe that the numbers of incidents will 
continue to rise substantially with the projected rapid rise in UAS 
sales in the coming months. The following tables show the number of 
reports received during 2014 and 2015.

                                                                            Table 2--Unmanned Aircraft Reports, 2014
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                       2014                                                                                  Unmanned aircraft reports
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                      Month                           Jan        Feb        Mar        Apr        May        Jun        Jul        Aug        Sept       Oct        Nov        Dec       Total
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Count............................................         0          1          2          5         11         16         36         30         41         41         33         22        238
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                                                                            Table 3--Unmanned Aircraft Reports, 2015
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                      2015                                                                                   Unmanned aircraft reports
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                      Month                           Jan         Feb         Mar         Apr         May         Jun         Jul         Aug        Sept         Oct         Nov        Total
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Count...........................................         26          50          85          64          95         132         128         193         127         137          96        1133
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* As of December 9, 2015.

    Specific examples of UAS events include:
     June 17, 2015: Near the surrounding area of Big Bear City, 
CA, a fire erupted, quickly spreading and causing significant damage. 
By June 24, 2015, all surrounding affected areas were evacuated, 20,875 
acres of land had been destroyed, and the fire was only 26% contained. 
Although the FAA issued a temporary flight restriction for the area 
surrounding the fire, unmanned aircraft penetrated the airspace and 
grounded all airborne firefighting efforts in support of continued fire 
containment. This event resulted in two reported evasive-action events, 
and forced the grounding of 4 responding aircraft over a period of two 
and a half hours before airborne firefighting efforts could resume. 
Before landing, a DC-10 tanker plane diverted to a separate fire in 
Nevada to drop its fire retardant, while the remaining smaller planes 
were forced to dump fire retardant around the immediate area due to 
landing weight restrictions.\8\ Officials

[[Page 78598]]

said the failed mission cost between $10,000 and $15,000. This estimate 
only reflects operational costs and does not reflect the additional 
damage caused to property by the delay in being able to combat the 
fires.
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    \8\ Lake Fire Grew After Private Drone Flight Disrupted Air 
Flights, Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2015, available at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-wildfires-southern-california-20150625-story.html.
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     July 17, 2015: A fire began in California near Interstate 
15, a highway that runs between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Due to hot, 
40 mile per hour winds, the fire spread at a rapid pace. The Air Attack 
Officer, upon arrival, observed small unmanned aircraft activity 
operating contrary to a temporary flight restriction in the area. This 
resulted in aircraft being removed from the area for a period of twenty 
minutes. The delay of 20 minutes in aircraft response was critical in 
the growth of the fire. With the heavy aviation response on the scene 
of the fire, Air Attack Officers estimate this fire could have been 
stopped at less than 100 acres if the small unmanned aircraft had not 
interfered by penetrating the airspace.\9\ A total of eighteen vehicles 
and two trucks were destroyed by fire.
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    \9\ SAFECOM (2015, July 18). Incident Report. Retrieved November 
13, 2015 from https://www.safecom.gov/searchone.asp?ID=19694.
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     September 3, 2015: An unmanned aircraft was flown into 
Louis Armstrong Stadium, which is located within 5 miles of LaGuardia 
Airport, during a U.S. Open tennis match. The unmanned aircraft crashed 
in an empty section of the stands.\10\
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    \10\ Drone Crash at U.S. Open, New York City Teacher Arrested, 
NPR, September 4, 2015, available at http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/09/04/437539727/drone-crash-at-u-s-open-new-york-city-teacher-arrested.
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     October 26, 2015: An unmanned aircraft flew into primary 
conductors bringing down one span of power line in West Hollywood, 
California. The incident report from Southern California Edison 
indicates that initially 640 customers were impacted.\11\
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    \11\ Incident report from Robert Laffoon-Villegas, media 
relations, Southern California Edison, provided November 13, 2015.
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     January 26, 2015: An unmanned aircraft operator crashed 
his unmanned aircraft on the grounds of the White House. The flight 
occurred in the White House prohibited flight zone, P56.\12\
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    \12\ A Drone, Too Small for Radar to Detect, Rattles the White 
House. New York Times, Jan. 26, 2015, available at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/white-house-drone.html.
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     September 5, 2015: A University of Kentucky student flew 
an unmanned aircraft directly into the campus' stadium during the 
school's season-opening football game.\13\ No injuries were reported. 
The unmanned aircraft, which had hovered near parachuting military 
skydivers, crashed in the suite level of Commonwealth Stadium. The 
Kentucky campus police chief told a news conference that the same 
student operated an unmanned aircraft over a soccer match the previous 
week.
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    \13\ Student Charged with Endangerment After Drone Crashes into 
Stadium, Ars Technica, September 11, 2015, available at http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2015/09/student-charged-with-endangerment-after-drone-crashes-into-football-stadium/.
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     September 12, 2015: Debris from an unmanned aircraft that 
had fallen near bystanders cut and bruised an 11-month-old girl in a 
stroller during an outdoor movie screening in Pasadena, California. The 
Pasadena Police Department said a 24-year-old man lost control of his 
small unmanned aircraft, causing it to crash to the ground. The 11-
month-old received injuries to her head. She was treated at Huntington 
Memorial Hospital and then released.\14\
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    \14\ Fallen Drone Injures 11-mointh old near Pasadena City Hall, 
Pasadena Star News, September 15, 2015 available at http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20150915/falling-drone-injures-11-month-old-near-pasadena-city-hall.
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    During the last quarter of this calendar year, approximately 
800,000 new sUAS are expected to enter the system and begin operating. 
In 2016, the FAA expects sales of an additional 1.9 million small 
unmanned aircraft used as model aircraft. The FAA also expects sales of 
600,000 aircraft used for other than model purposes, after the 
Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems notice 
of proposed rulemaking (the ``sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM'') 
is finalized.\15\ Model aircraft sales alone are expected to grow by 23 
percent each year for the next 5 years.\16\ Sales for sUAS used for 
commercial applications will rapidly accelerate as well, with different 
growth rates in different applications. Sales are forecast to grow from 
very few sUAS employed commercially today, to nearly 11 million units 
by 2020 (about 40% of total units sold that year).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ 80 FR 9544 (Feb. 23, 2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Many of the owners of these new sUAS may have no prior aviation 
experience and have little or no understanding of the NAS, let alone 
knowledge of the safe operating requirements and additional 
authorizations required to conduct certain operations. Aircraft 
registration provides an immediate and direct opportunity for the 
agency to engage and educate these new users prior to operating their 
unmanned aircraft and to hold them accountable for noncompliance with 
safe operating requirements, thereby mitigating the risk associated 
with the influx of operations. In light of the increasing reports and 
incidents of unsafe incidents, rapid proliferation of both commercial 
and model aircraft operators, and the resulting increased risk, the 
Department has determined it is contrary to the public interest to 
proceed with further notice and comment rulemaking regarding aircraft 
registration for small unmanned aircraft. To minimize risk to other 
users of the NAS and people and property on the ground, it is critical 
that the Department be able to link the expected number of new unmanned 
aircraft to their owners and educate these new owners prior to 
commencing operations.
    In addition to the safety justifications that support the immediate 
adoption of this rule, the FAA Aircraft Registration Branch (the 
Registry) will be unable to quickly process the total volume of 
expected small unmanned aircraft registration applications for existing 
unmanned aircraft and the proliferation of newly purchased unmanned 
aircraft. Thus, the FAA must implement a registration system that 
allows the agency greater flexibility in accommodating this expected 
growth.
    In addition, the existing registration system requirements are 
incongruous with the characteristics of many of the small unmanned 
aircraft, small unmanned aircraft ownership, and small unmanned 
aircraft operations. For example, small unmanned aircraft are not 
required to be type certificated, may cost very little, making them 
widely accessible, and may have operating limitations that could affect 
the range of their operations. As reflected in greater detail in the 
regulatory evaluation supporting this rulemaking, the total costs for 
using the paper-based registry, for both the small unmanned aircraft 
owners and for the FAA, were projected to exceed $775M over a 5-year 
period. The Department has determined it would be impracticable to 
require all small unmanned aircraft owners to use this system and that 
a stream-lined, web-based alternative is necessary to accommodate this 
population and ensure operations may commence in a safe and timely 
manner.
    The streamlined registration process provided in this IFR will 
allow the agency to complete in the near-term the registration of 
existing and new small unmanned aircraft to be operated exclusively as 
model aircraft, where the FAA expects the largest growth in the coming 
months. In the spring of 2016, the FAA will open the streamlined 
registration process to small unmanned

[[Page 78599]]

aircraft used for purposes other than as model aircraft. By first 
addressing the registration of new small unmanned aircraft to be 
operated exclusively as model aircraft, the FAA expects to provide 
relief from the existing registration process to the largest population 
of new small unmanned aircraft operators while still realizing the 
fundamental goal of identification of small unmanned aircraft owners 
responsible for the aircraft operation.
    Therefore, the FAA has determined that it is impracticable and 
contrary to the public interest in ensuring the safety of the NAS and 
people and property on the ground to proceed with further notice and 
comment on aircraft registration requirements for small unmanned 
aircraft before implementing the streamlined registry system 
established by this rule. As more small unmanned aircraft enter the 
NAS, the risk of unsafe operations will increase without a means by 
which to identify these small unmanned aircraft in the event of an 
incident or accident. Registration will also provide an immediate and 
direct avenue for educating users regarding safe and responsible use of 
sUAS. The public interest served by the notice and comment process is 
outweighed by the significant increase in risk that the public will 
face with the immediate proliferation of new small unmanned aircraft 
that will be introduced into the NAS in the weeks ahead.
    In developing the IFR, the Department has considered the public 
comments regarding UAS registration received in response to the 
Operation and Certification of Small UAS NPRM, the Request for 
Information published in the Federal Register on October 22, 2015, and 
the recommendations from the UAS Registration Task Force. Although we 
have considered these comments in developing this IFR, the Department 
will consider additional comments received following publication of 
this IFR and make any necessary adjustments in the final rule. At this 
time however, due to the reasons set forth above, providing another 
opportunity for notice and comment in advance of this rule going into 
effect would be contrary to the public interest and impracticable.
    Additionally, the APA requires agencies to delay the effective date 
of regulations for 30 days after publication, unless the agency finds 
good cause to make the regulations effective sooner. See 5 U.S.C. 
553(d). Good cause exists for making this regulation effective less 
than 30 days from the date of publication because it relieves a 
significant number of owners from the burden of complying with the 
paper-based, time-consuming part 47 registration process. It also is 
necessary to address immediate and ongoing safety risk identified in 
the discussion of above regarding good cause for forgoing notice and 
comment.

IV. Comments Invited

    Prior to the issuance of this IFR, the Department and the FAA 
solicited public comment on the aircraft registration process for small 
unmanned aircraft through the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM and 
a request for information issued on October 19, 2015. In developing 
this IFR, the agency has considered comments received in response to 
these requests.
    In addition, consistent with the Regulatory Policies and Procedures 
of the Department of Transportation (DOT) (44 FR 11034; Feb. 26, 1979), 
which provide that to the maximum extent possible, operating 
administrations for the DOT should provide an opportunity for public 
comment on regulations issued without prior notice, the Department 
requests comment on this IFR. The Department encourages persons to 
participate in this rulemaking by submitting comments containing 
relevant information, data, or views. The Department will consider 
comments received on or before the closing date for comments. The 
Department will consider late filed comments to the extent practicable. 
This IFR may be amended based on comments received.

V. Authority for This Rulemaking

    The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in 
Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, Section 106 describes 
the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation 
Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority.
    This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in 49 
U.S.C. 106(f), which establishes the authority of the Administrator to 
promulgate regulations and rules; and 49 U.S.C. 44701(a)(5), which 
requires the Administrator to promote safe flight of civil aircraft in 
air commerce by prescribing regulations and setting minimum standards 
for other practices, methods, and procedures necessary for safety in 
air commerce and national security.
    This rule is also promulgated pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 44101-44106 and 
44110-44113 which require aircraft to be registered as a condition of 
operation and establish the requirements for registration and 
registration processes.
    Additionally, this rulemaking is promulgated pursuant to the 
Secretary's authority in 49 U.S.C. 41703 to permit the operation of 
foreign civil aircraft in the United States.

VI. Background

A. Statutory Requirements Related to Aircraft Registration

    For purposes of the statutory provisions in part A (Air Commerce 
and Safety) of subtitle VII (Aviation Programs) of title 49 of the 
United States Code (49 U.S.C.), title 49 defines ``aircraft'' as ``any 
contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate or fly in the 
air.'' 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(6). Since a small unmanned aircraft is a 
contrivance that is invented, used, and designed to fly in the air, a 
small unmanned aircraft is an aircraft under title 49.
    In Public Law 112-95, Congress confirmed that unmanned aircraft, 
including those used for recreation or hobby purposes, are aircraft 
consistent with the statutory definition set forth in 49 U.S.C. 
40102(a)(6). See Public Law 112-95 sections 331(8) and 336 (defining an 
unmanned aircraft as ``an aircraft that is operated without the 
possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the 
aircraft'' and a model aircraft as ``an unmanned aircraft that is 
capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere, flown within visual line 
of sight of the person operating the aircraft, and flown for hobby or 
recreational purposes.''); see also Administrator v. Pirker, NTSB Order 
No. EA-5730 at 12 (Nov. 17, 2014) (affirming that the statutory 
definition of aircraft is clear and unambiguous and ``includes any 
aircraft, manned or unmanned, large or small.'').
    Subject to certain exceptions, aircraft must be registered prior to 
operation. See 49 U.S.C. 44101-44103. Upon registration, the 
Administrator must issue a certificate of registration to the aircraft 
owner. See 49 U.S.C. 44103. Because small UAS, including model 
aircraft, involve the operation of ``aircraft,'' the Secretary and the 
Administrator clarified that the statutory and regulatory aircraft 
registration requirements apply. See 80 FR 63912, October 22, 2015.

B. Regulatory Requirements Pertaining to Aircraft Registration and 
Identification

    The regulatory requirements pertaining to aircraft registration 
serve several purposes. In order to operate in the NAS, the FAA must 
ensure not only that aircraft operators are aware of the system in 
which they are operating, but

[[Page 78600]]

also that the agency has a means to identify and track an aircraft, 
including unmanned aircraft, to its operator. One means to accomplish 
this is through aircraft registration and marking.
    Aircraft registration and marking are essential elements in the 
regulatory structure that provides for safe and orderly aircraft 
activity within the NAS because registration ensures accountability 
among its users. The registration number provides a link to information 
about the aircraft and the owner responsible for its operations.
    Aircraft registration information often has a direct and immediate 
impact on safety-related issues. For example, aircraft registration 
provides the FAA and law enforcement agencies an invaluable tool during 
inspections and investigations of inappropriate or prohibited behavior, 
during emergency situations and for purposes of sharing safety 
information. The Registry also serves as a valuable tool in enabling 
further research and analysis.
    Additionally, the aircraft registration requirements in part 47 
together with the requirements pertaining to the recording of aircraft 
title and security documents in part 49 coalesce to establish a filing 
and recording system for the collection of ownership and financial 
interests in aircraft. This system supports the aviation industry by 
providing public notice of interests in aircraft in a reviewable 
format, generally to support the confidence or willingness of banks and 
others to provide financing for the development of the U.S. aviation 
industry and to promote commerce.
    Part 47: Part 47 of 14 CFR implements the statutory requirements 
for aircraft registration by providing a registration process 
applicable to aircraft that are not registered under the laws of a 
foreign country and that meet one of the following ownership criteria:
     The aircraft is owned by a citizen of the United States;
     The aircraft is owned by a permanent resident of the 
United States;
     The aircraft is owned by a corporation that is not a 
citizen of the United States, but that is organized and doing business 
under U.S. Federal or State law and the aircraft is based and primarily 
used in the United States; or
     The aircraft is owned by the United States government or a 
state or local governmental entity.
    This process is entirely paper-based and begins when a person who 
wishes to register an aircraft in the United States submits an Aircraft 
Registration Application (AC Form 8050-1) to the Registry. At a 
minimum, under part 47, applicants for a Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration must provide evidence of ownership, an application for 
registration, which includes certification as to eligibility for 
registration, and a registration fee. Evidence of ownership may 
include, but is not limited to, a traditional bill of sale, a contract 
of conditional sale, a lease with purchase option, or an heir-at-law 
affidavit. Many applicants are required to provide additional 
documentation for aircraft imported from a foreign country, built from 
a kit, or that qualify as amateur built aircraft. Additional 
documentation may include a certification from the builder as to the 
type of aircraft and a complete description, to include information 
such as make, model, serial number, engine manufacturer, type of 
engine, number of engines, maximum takeoff weight, and number of seats. 
An applicant who applies as a limited liability corporation, a trustee, 
a non-citizen corporation, or submits documentation signed by 
``authorized signers,'' must submit additional documentation to support 
registration. For amateur built aircraft, the owner or builder 
designates the aircraft model name and serial number. An applicant 
pertaining to an imported aircraft must provide evidence showing the 
aircraft has been removed from a foreign registry.
    Once registered, the Registry issues a Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration (AC Form 8050-3) to the aircraft owner and mails it to the 
address on record. The Registry experiences a range in the amount of 
time required to issue a Certificate. While it typically takes 12-15 
business days for the registry to issue a Certificate after an owner 
submits an application, due to an increase in registration 
applications, it currently takes approximately 22 business days for the 
registry to issue the certificate. The aircraft owner will typically 
receive a Certificate approximately 4 days after it is issued as a 
result of the time required for printing and mailing the certificate. 
The estimated times are extended if the application is rejected for 
document correction.
    The certificate of registration must be carried in the aircraft and 
must be made available for inspection upon request. Upon registration, 
an aircraft is also eligible to apply for an airworthiness certificate 
for operational purposes. When applying for registration of an aircraft 
that is already on the U.S. civil registry, and has a valid 
airworthiness certificate, an owner may use the second (carbon) copy of 
the application as temporary operating authority for up to 90 days 
pending receipt of the ``hard card'' certificate. For aircraft not 
already on the U.S. civil registry, there is no temporary operating 
authority.
    An aircraft registration must be renewed every three years by 
either submitting a renewal application or using an online renewal 
process, and paying the renewal fee. The certificate of registration is 
generally valid until the owner's address changes, the aircraft is sold 
or destroyed, it has expired under the three-year renewal period, the 
owner's eligibility status changes, or the owner registers the aircraft 
in a foreign country.
    Placing an aircraft on the U.S. civil aircraft registry in 
accordance with the part 47 process affords the aircraft the 
opportunity to operate within the United States and in most foreign 
countries.
    Part 45: Under part 45 of Title 14 CFR, aircraft must display the 
unique registration number that corresponds with the number on the 
registration certificate. Part 45 prescribes the requirements for 
identification of U.S. registered aircraft and the display of the 
registration number. The number must generally be: (1) Painted on the 
aircraft or affixed to the aircraft by some other permanent means; (2) 
have no ornamentation; (3) contrast in color with the background; and 
(4) be legible. See 14 CFR 45.21(c).
    Currently, small unmanned aircraft authorized to operate in the NAS 
under an exemption issued pursuant to the authority in section 333 of 
the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 must register in 
accordance with the paper-based process in 14 CFR part 47. Owners of 
unmanned aircraft with special airworthiness certificates and unmanned 
aircraft used by governmental entities in public aircraft operations 
also register via the part 47 registration process.

C. Related FAA and DOT Actions

    In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-95), 
Congress mandated that the DOT, in consultation with other government 
partners and industry stakeholders, develop a comprehensive plan to 
safely accelerate the integration of civil UAS in the NAS. Since 2012, 
the Department and the Federal Aviation Administration have made 
progress in enabling UAS operations, by issuing exemptions per part 11 
in conjunction with the authority of section 333 of Public Law 112-95 
to permit commercial operations; creating a UAS test site program to 
encourage further research and testing of UAS operations in real-world 
environments; and developing a Pathfinder program to encourage research 
and innovation that

[[Page 78601]]

will enable advanced UAS operations. The Department requires UAS 
operators authorized under each of these integration programs to 
register their unmanned aircraft through the existing FAA paper-based 
registration process under 14 CFR part 47.
    The Department and the FAA have taken several other related actions 
as provided in the preamble discussions that follow.
1. Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
    The Secretary and the Administrator issued an NPRM, ``Operation and 
Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems'' (80 FR 9544 (Feb. 
23, 2015)) (sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM),\17\ that proposed a 
framework for integrating small UAS operations in the NAS. 
Specifically, the proposal would address the operation of small UAS, 
certification of small UAS operators, small UAS registration, and 
display of registration markings. The agency also proposed to exclude 
small UAS operations from the requirements for airworthiness 
certification under the authority of section 333 of the Act because the 
safety concerns related to airworthiness of small UAS would be 
mitigated by the other provisions of that proposed rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ RIN 2120-AJ60.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM, the Secretary and the 
Administrator asserted that small unmanned aircraft satisfy the 
statutory definition of ``aircraft'' and thus must be registered prior 
to operation. For this reason, the NPRM proposed to clarify the 
applicability of the part 47 aircraft registration requirements to sUAS 
expected to be operated under proposed part 107. See 80 FR at 9574. The 
NPRM also clarified that small unmanned aircraft must display a 
registration number in accordance with part 45. The agency proposed, 
however, to exclude small unmanned aircraft from the requirements in 
part 45, subpart B for fireproof marking. See 80 FR at 9574-9575.
    The comment period for the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM 
closed April 24, 2015. The FAA received more than 4,500 comments on 
this proposal; of those, approximately 125 commenters addressed the 
issue of small unmanned aircraft registration and the registration 
process, and approximately 110 addressed marking requirements. This IFR 
addresses the comments received regarding the registration, 
identification, and marking requirements as well as certain definitions 
relevant to the registration process and proposed in the NPRM.
2. Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration 
Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for 
Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UAS
    On October 19, 2015, the Secretary and the Administrator issued a 
notice clarifying the applicability of the statutory requirements for 
aircraft registration to small unmanned aircraft (the ``Clarification/
Request for Information'') (80 FR 63912, October 22, 2015). In 
addition, the Clarification/Request for Information announced the 
formation of a UAS Registration Task Force (Task Force) to explore and 
develop recommendations to streamline the registration process for 
small unmanned aircraft to ease the burden associated with the existing 
aircraft registration process. To facilitate the work of the Task 
Force, the Secretary and the Administrator sought information and data 
from the public through a number of questions identified in the Federal 
Register notice. Specifically, the Secretary and the Administrator 
sought information on the following questions:
    1. What methods are available for identifying individual products? 
Does every UAS sold have an individual serial number? Is there another 
method for identifying individual products sold without serial numbers 
or those built from kits?
    2. At what point should registration occur (e.g. point-of-sale or 
prior to operation)? How should transfers of ownership be addressed in 
registration?
    3. If registration occurs at point-of sale, who should be 
responsible for submission of the data? What burdens would be placed on 
vendors of UAS if DOT required registration to occur at point-of-sale? 
What are the advantages of a point-of-sale approach relative to a 
prior-to-operation approach?
    4. Consistent with past practice of discretion, should certain UAS 
be excluded from registration based on performance capabilities or 
other characteristics that could be associated with safety risk, such 
as weight, speed, altitude operating limitations, duration of flight? 
If so, please submit information or data to help support the 
suggestions, and whether any other criteria should be considered.
    5. How should a registration process be designed to minimize 
burdens and best protect innovation and encourage growth in the UAS 
industry?
    6. Should the registration be electronic or web-based? Are there 
existing tools that could support an electronic registration process?
    7. What type of information should be collected during the 
registration process to positively identify the aircraft owner and 
aircraft?
    8. How should the registration data be stored? Who should have 
access to the registration data? How should the data be used?
    9. Should a registration fee be collected and if so, how will the 
registration fee be collected if registration occurs at point-of-sale? 
Are there payment services that can be leveraged to assist (e.g. 
PayPal)?
    10. Are there additional means beyond aircraft registration to 
encourage accountability and responsible use of UAS?
    See 80 FR at 63914. The comment period on the Clarification/Request 
for Information closed November 6, 2015. As of November 6, 2015, the 
FAA received over 4,500 comments on the Clarification/Request for 
Information. In the Clarification/Request for Information, the DOT 
stated, ``[T]he docket will remain open after this time and the 
Department will consider all comments received in developing a 
registration process.'' The FAA considered more than 175 additional 
comments submitted after the close of the comment period. The FAA has 
considered the Clarification/Request for Information comments in the 
development of this IFR.
3. Registration Task Force (Task Force)
    The Administrator chartered the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) 
Registration Task Force (Task Force) Aviation Rulemaking Committee 
(ARC) on October 20, 2015. The Administrator selected Task Force 
members based on their familiarity with UAS, aircraft registration 
policies and procedures, retail inventory control and tracking, and 
electronic data capture. The membership was comprised of a diverse 
group of representatives from trade groups representing manned and 
unmanned aviation, UAS manufacturers and retailers, and law 
enforcement.
    The Task Force was tasked with the following three objectives:
    1. Develop and recommend minimum requirements for UAS that would 
need to be registered.
    2. Develop and recommend registration processes.
    3. Develop and recommend methods for proving registration and 
marking.
    On November 21, 2015, the Task Force provided a final report with

[[Page 78602]]

recommendations pertaining to these three objectives.\18\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \18\ The Task Force final report can be found in the docket for 
this rulemaking and at https://www.faa.gov/uas/publications/media/RTFARCFinalReport_11-21-15.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The following table, taken from the Task Force report, describes 
the Task Force's recommendations.

Table 4--Small UAS Registration Task Force Aviation Rulemaking Committee
                         Recommendations Summary
------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Issue                      Task force recommendation
------------------------------------------------------------------------
What category of UAS is        UAS that weigh under 55 pounds and above
 covered by the registration    250 grams maximum takeoff weight, and
 requirement?                   are operated outdoors in the NAS.
Do owners need to register     No. The registration system is owner-
 each individual UAS they       based, so each registrant will have a
 own?                           single registration number that covers
                                any and all UAS that the registrant
                                owns.
Is registration required at    No. Registration is mandatory prior to
 point-of-sale?.                operation of a UAS in the NAS.
What information is required   Name and street address of the registrant
 for the registration           are required.
 process?                      Mailing address, email address, telephone
                                number, and serial number of the
                                aircraft are optional.
Is there a citizenship         No.
 requirement?.
Is there a minimum age         Yes. Persons must be 13 years of age to
 requirement?.                  register.
Is there a registration fee?.  No.
Is the registration system     The system for entry of information into
 electronic or web-based?       the database is web-based and also
                                allows for multiple entry points,
                                powered by an API [application
                                programming interface] that will enable
                                custom apps [applications] to provide
                                registry information to the database and
                                receive registration numbers and
                                certificates back from the database.
                                Registrants can also modify their
                                information through the web or apps.
How does a UAS owner prove     A certificate of registration will be
 registration?.                 sent to the registrant at the time of
                                registration. The certificate will be
                                sent electronically, unless a paper copy
                                is requested, or unless the traditional
                                aircraft registration process is
                                utilized. The registration certificate
                                will contain the registrant's name, FAA-
                                issued registration number, and the FAA
                                registration website that can be used by
                                authorized users to confirm registration
                                information. For registrants who elect
                                to provide the serial number(s) of their
                                aircraft to the FAA, the certificate
                                will also contain those serial
                                number(s). Any time a registered UAS is
                                in operation, the operator of that UAS
                                should be prepared to produce the
                                certificate of registration for
                                inspection.
Does the registration number   Yes, unless the registrant chooses to
 have to be affixed to the      provide the FAA with the aircraft's
 aircraft?                      serial number. Whether the owner chooses
                                to rely on the serial number or affix
                                the FAA-issued registration number to
                                the aircraft, the marking must be
                                readily accessible and maintained in a
                                condition that is readable and legible
                                upon close visual inspection. Markings
                                enclosed in a compartment, such as a
                                battery compartment, will be considered
                                ``readily accessible'' if they can be
                                accessed without the use of tools.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In its report, the Task Force stated, ``[T]he general consensus 
view of the Task Force is that the recommendations on the three 
objectives are to be presented together as a unified recommendation, 
with each of the individual recommendations dependent upon elements in 
the others. Compromises in positions were made whenever possible to 
obtain a general consensus, and changes to any of the components could 
further dilute support among the Task Force members and their 
constituencies for the final recommendations.''
    The agency has assessed the recommendations within statutory 
limitations provided for aircraft registration and with this final 
rule, will move forward with the elements of the Task Force report that 
support the best public policy for registering small unmanned aircraft.

VII. Discussion of the Interim Final Rule

    This IFR adds part 48 to title 14 to allow for a web-based 
registration process and marking appropriate for small unmanned 
aircraft. For these aircraft, part 48 may be used in place of the 
paper-based, registration process in part 47 and the marking 
requirements in part 45 that would otherwise be required.
    Unlike manned aircraft, small unmanned aircraft cost significantly 
less than manned aircraft and are available through a variety of 
different markets for purchase by individuals who may not be familiar 
with the federal safety requirements for operating in the NAS. As a 
consequence, small unmanned aircraft may become more common than manned 
aircraft, resulting in a significant volume of new aircraft 
registrations. This rule provides for a streamlined and simple 
registration process that is commensurate to the nature of small 
unmanned aircraft, can accommodate an expected high volume of 
registrations, and will facilitate compliance by using a web-based 
platform and limiting the information to that which can identify the 
aircraft and its owner. Upon registration under new part 48, the FAA 
will assign a unique registration number and provide a registration 
certificate that can be stored electronically or printed by the 
aircraft owner.
    The FAA recognizes that some small unmanned aircraft owners may 
choose to continue to register small unmanned aircraft under part 47. 
For example, some small unmanned aircraft owners may choose to register 
their small unmanned aircraft under part 47 due to financing 
requirements or if they wish to operate internationally, displaying 
registration marks in accordance with part 45. While this final rule 
does not require small unmanned aircraft owners to use the part 48 
registration process in place of part 47, the agency strongly 
encourages small unmanned aircraft owners to take advantage of the more 
efficient part 48 method of aircraft registration. The FAA also notes 
that a new part 48 registration does not limit an owner's ability to 
later move to a traditional part 47 registration should its operational 
or financial interests change. Conversely, a traditional part 47 
registration of small unmanned aircraft can be moved to a new part 48

[[Page 78603]]

registration at the discretion of the owner if they wish to pursue that 
venue.

A. Applicability

1. Small Unmanned Aircraft
    The registration requirements in part 48 apply to small unmanned 
aircraft that are part of a small unmanned aircraft system and that 
satisfy the requirements to register in Sec.  48.15 and the eligibility 
requirements in Sec.  48.20. Although a small unmanned aircraft itself 
is one component of an sUAS, part 48 requires the registration of the 
aircraft only.\19\ The registration requirement is limited to the small 
unmanned aircraft for two reasons. First, the small unmanned aircraft 
is the only part of the UAS that satisfies the definition of 
``aircraft'' for purposes of the registration requirements in 49 U.S.C. 
44101-44103, and second, components that control the unmanned aircraft 
can be used to control multiple aircraft. As discussed in this 
document, the FAA would continue to exercise enforcement discretion for 
aircraft that weigh less than 0.55 pounds, such as paper airplanes that 
are not linked to a system.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \19\ Sec. 331(9) of Public Law 112-95. Public Law 112-95 defines 
an ``unmanned aircraft system'' as ``an unmanned aircraft and 
associated elements (including communication links and the 
components that control the unmanned aircraft) that are required for 
the pilot in command to operate safely and efficiently in the 
national airspace system.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Registration does not provide authorization to operate any 
aircraft--and the same is true for small unmanned aircraft. Currently, 
operations using small unmanned aircraft other than as model aircraft 
must obtain authorization to operate in accordance with section 333 of 
Public Law 112-95, or through issuance of a special airworthiness 
certificate. Small unmanned aircraft operated exclusively as model 
aircraft may only be operated in accordance with requirements of 
section 336 of Public Law 112-95 (Feb. 14, 2012). See also 
Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, 79 FR 36171 
(June 25, 2014). Any operation that does not follow the 336 framework 
needs authorization from the FAA. Once the sUAS Operation and 
Certification NPRM is finalized, operations intending to use small 
unmanned aircraft as other than model aircraft, and those operators who 
choose not to operate in accordance with the requirements of section 
336 of Public Law 112-95, will need to operate in accordance with the 
sUAS Operation and Certification rule's requirements.
2. Operations in U.S. Airspace
    The registration process for small unmanned aircraft provided in 
part 48 may be used only if the aircraft is intended for use within the 
United States during the period of registration because this 
registration process is not intended to be consistent with 
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards addressing 
registration and marking. The FAA notes that under Presidential 
Proclamation 5928, the territorial sea of the United States, and 
consequently its territorial airspace, extends to 12 nautical miles 
from the baselines of the United States determined in accordance with 
international law.
    ICAO has stated that ``[u]nmanned aircraft . . . are, indeed 
aircraft; therefore existing [ICAO standards and recommended practices] 
SARPs apply to a very great extent. The complete integration of UAS at 
aerodromes and in the various airspace classes will, however, 
necessitate the development of UAS-specific SARPs to supplement those 
already existing.'' \20\ ICAO has begun to issue and amend SARPs to 
specifically address UAS operations and registration. Regarding 
registration, ICAO standards in Annex 7 (Aircraft Nationality and 
Registration Marks) to the Convention require remotely piloted aircraft 
to ``carry an identification plate inscribed with at least its 
nationality or common mark and registration mark'' and be ``made of 
fireproof metal or other fireproof material of suitable physical 
properties.'' For remotely piloted aircraft, this identification plate 
must be ``secured in a prominent position near the main entrance or 
compartment or affixed conspicuously to the exterior of the aircraft if 
there is no main entrance or compartment.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \20\ ICAO Circular 328 (Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)) (2011).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The FAA agrees with ICAO that unmanned aircraft are indeed aircraft 
and as such, must be registered and identified. However, the agency has 
determined that it is possible to register and identify small unmanned 
aircraft using in a less restrictive manner and with more flexibility 
than current ICAO standards allow. Additionally, the FAA has determined 
that it can achieve the highest level of compliance with a registration 
requirement and thus identify more small unmanned aircraft to their 
owners by using the streamlined, web-based process in this final rule.
    The FAA emphasizes that utilization of the registration process 
implemented by this final rule does not prohibit small UAS operators 
from operating in international airspace or in other countries; 
however, the rule also does not provide authorization for such 
operations.
    UAS operations that do not take place entirely within the United 
States will need to obtain the necessary authorizations from the FAA 
and the relevant foreign aviation authority.
3. Public Aircraft Operations
    Clarification/Request for Information: Several commenters addressed 
the applicability of registration requirements to small unmanned 
aircraft used in public aircraft operations. The Department of Defense 
Policy Board on Federal Aviation recommended the FAA ``[c]learly state 
that all public aircraft operators with self-certification authority, 
by statute, are exempt from this registration.'' Aviation Management 
Associates also said the FAA should exempt all public aircraft from the 
registration requirement. Another commenter said that any UAS that are 
owned or operated by the FAA Small UAS Center of Excellence, any of the 
six FAA UAS Test Sites or any other government agency or department, or 
are operated under a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) 
should be exempt from the registration requirement. In contrast, a few 
individuals specifically recommended that UAS operated by government 
should be required to register.
    IFR Requirement: Under 49 U.S.C. 44101, only certain foreign 
aircraft and aircraft of the national defense forces of the United 
States are eligible to operate unregistered aircraft in the United 
States, and any such unregistered aircraft must be identified in a way 
satisfactory to the Administrator. Section 44102(a)(2)(A) and (B) 
describe those aircraft that may be registered as those of the United 
States Government and various state and local governments. This 
definition parallels the language used in 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(41) and 
40125 to describe public aircraft eligibility and operations. 
Accordingly, consistent with existing statutory requirements for 
registration, the IFR will not apply to small unmanned aircraft of the 
armed forces of the United States. 49 U.S.C. 44101(b)(2). Small 
unmanned aircraft used in non-military public aircraft operations are 
subject to the registration requirements of 49 U.S.C. 44101 and as 
such, must complete the registration process provided in part 47. These 
aircraft may also be registered in accordance with the part 48 process 
that will be available for aircraft used for

[[Page 78604]]

other than model aircraft operations in the spring of 2016.
4. Trusts and Voting Trusts
    The FAA requires that a person holding legal title to an aircraft 
in trust must, when applying to register that aircraft in the United 
States, submit a ``copy of each document legally affecting a 
relationship under the trust . . .'' 14 CFR 47.7(c)(2)(i). The purpose 
of this requirement is to ensure the FAA has access to all documents 
relevant to the trust relationship when determining whether a trust 
provides an adequate basis for registering an aircraft in accordance 
with FAA regulations. A fundamental part of the registration process 
for aircraft held in trust is determining whether the underlying 
agreements meet and are not in conflict with the applicable 
requirements and therefore are sufficient to establish the trustee's 
eligibility to register the aircraft. The analysis of voting trusts is 
similarly intricate.
    Use of trusts and voting trusts involve complex relationships that 
have been used to obscure the identity of the beneficial owners of an 
aircraft. For this reason, part 47 applies a higher level of scrutiny 
when trusts and voting trusts seek to register aircraft. This higher 
level of scrutiny is inconsistent with the streamlined registration 
process established under part 48. Accordingly, trusts and voting 
trusts must continue to register small unmanned aircraft under part 47 
so that the FAA can identify and evaluate the applicants.

B. Definitions

    The new part created by this final rule includes definitions of 
several terms that are relevant to the registration of small unmanned 
aircraft. The definitions of ``U.S. Citizen,'' ``resident alien,'' and 
``Registry'' have the same meaning as provided in the aircraft 
registration process provided by part 47. See Sec.  47.2. The 
definition of ``model aircraft'' is identical to the definition 
provided in section 336(c) of Public Law 112-95.
    Additionally, the agency finds it necessary to codify the statutory 
definitions of ``small unmanned aircraft,'' ``unmanned aircraft,'' and 
``small unmanned aircraft system'' given the limited applicability of 
the new subpart to small unmanned aircraft that are an associated 
element of a small UAS. The agency proposed definitions of these three 
terms in the Operation and Certification NPRM. This rulemaking 
finalizes these proposed definitions because they are applicable to the 
small unmanned aircraft registration process provided by this final 
rule. The definitions will be added to Sec.  1.1 General definitions, 
because the agency expects them to be applicable to several parts 
throughout title 14.
1. Unmanned Aircraft
    In the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM, the FAA proposed to 
define ``unmanned aircraft'' as ``an aircraft operated without the 
possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the 
aircraft.'' \21\ This proposed definition would codify the statutory 
definition of ``unmanned aircraft'' specified in Public Law 112-95.\22\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \21\ 80 FR at 9586.
    \22\ 80 FR at 9556 (citing Pub. L. 112-95, section 331(8)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors 
(MAPPS) stated that the definition of ``unmanned aircraft'' needs to be 
clarified because the current definition leaves open the possibility 
that paper airplanes, model airplanes, model rockets, and toys could be 
considered unmanned aircraft. The Aviators Model Code of Conduct 
Initiative stated that this definition and the definition of small 
unmanned aircraft may permit infant passengers and asked the FAA to 
amend the definition to categorically prohibit the carriage of 
passengers on an unmanned aircraft.
    Lastly, an individual said that because 14 CFR 1.1 defines aircraft 
as ``a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the 
air,'' only a ``whole'' or ``complete'' aircraft can meet this 
definition for registration purposes.
    The definition of unmanned aircraft as ``an aircraft operated 
without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on 
the aircraft'' is a statutory definition, and as such, this rule will 
finalize that definition as proposed.\23\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \23\ Pub. L. 112-95, section 331(8).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

2. Small Unmanned Aircraft
    In the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM, the FAA proposed to 
define ``small unmanned aircraft'' as ``an unmanned aircraft weighing 
less than 55 pounds including everything that is on board the 
aircraft.'' \24\ The NPRM noted that Public Law 112-95 defines a small 
unmanned aircraft as ``an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 
pounds.'' \25\ However, the NPRM pointed out that this statutory 
definition does not specify whether the 55-pound weight limit refers to 
the total weight of the aircraft at the time of takeoff (which would 
encompass the weight of the aircraft and any payload on board) or 
simply the weight of an empty aircraft.\26\ The NPRM proposed to define 
small unmanned aircraft using total takeoff weight because: (1) Heavier 
aircraft generally pose greater amounts of public risk in the event of 
an accident as they can do more damage to people and property on the 
ground; and (2) this approach would be similar to the approach that the 
FAA has taken with other aircraft, such as large aircraft, light-sport 
aircraft, and small aircraft.\27\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \24\ 80 FR at 9586.
    \25\ 80 FR at 9556 (citing Pub. L. 112-95, section 331(6)).
    \26\ 80 FR at 9556.
    \27\ 80 FR at 9556.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Commenters including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association 
(AOPA), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), Helicopter Association 
International (HAI), the Small UAV Coalition, the News Media Coalition, 
and the Professional Photographers of America, expressed support for 
the proposed definition. The New England Chapter of the Association of 
Unmanned Vehicles International supported the weight limitation as a 
reasonable starting point, but pointed out that there are commercial 
applications being developed that will need to exceed 55 pounds. Event 
38 Unmanned Systems, Inc. stated that, rather than segregate small 
unmanned aircraft by total weight, FAA should use a ``kinetic energy 
split'' that combines weight and speed.
    Several commenters asked that the 55-pound weight limit be lowered. 
Event 38 Unmanned Systems recommended an initial weight restriction of 
10 pounds, with adjustments based on subsequent research. Prioria 
Robotics stated that the weight limitation for small unmanned aircraft 
should be less than 25 pounds, and that the definition should include a 
requirement that the aircraft be ``hand-launchable.'' An individual 
commenter asked for the weight limit to be reduced to 33 pounds.
    Green Vegans stated that FAA must provide test data on the 
collision impact of a 55 pound UAS, traveling at various speeds, on 
both humans and birds. The advocacy group argued that the public cannot 
make informed comments on the proposed weight limitation without such 
data. The commenter also noted that such data would be provided by a 
National Environmental Protection Act Environmental Impact Statement, 
which the group stated FAA must do. Crew Systems similarly opposed the 
maximum weight limitation, arguing that FAA provided no justification 
for it. The company asserted that a 55 pound limit is large enough to 
be hazardous when operating in an urban environment, even if care is 
taken. Although it did not expressly object to

[[Page 78605]]

the weight limitation, the United States Ultralight Association (UASA) 
also expressed concern about the significant damage that a 50-plus 
pound unmanned aircraft could do to light, open cockpit aircraft.
    Other commenters asked the FAA to increase the 55-pound weight 
limit. Consumers Energy Company objected to the definition's proposed 
weight limitation as too light, arguing that a 55-pound weight 
restriction will negatively impact small UAS flight times and the usage 
of alternative fuel sources. The company urged FAA to consider fuel 
loads and to increase the weight restriction to 120 pounds. The company 
noted that, if FAA has concerns about safety, it could create 
subcategories under which maximum weight restriction is imposed on the 
fuel load, rather than adopt a blanket weight restriction. Several 
individual commenters also suggested higher weight limits, including: 
80 pounds; a range of 30-100 pounds; and 150 pounds. Another individual 
commenter called the weight restriction ``arbitrary,'' and noted that 
other countries have defined small UAS up to 150 kg.
    An individual commenter suggested that the FAA amend the definition 
of small unmanned aircraft to include aircraft weighing exactly 55 
pounds. Another individual commenter stated that the definition of 
``small unmanned aircraft'' must be clarified to account for different 
types of UAS (e.g., fixed-wing, rotor-wing, small, medium, large).
    The definition of ``small unmanned aircraft'' is a statutory 
definition. Specifically, Public Law 112-95 defines a small unmanned 
aircraft as ``an unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds.'' \28\ 
Accordingly, this rule will retain the statutory definition, which 
includes 55 pounds as the weight limit for a small unmanned aircraft.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \28\ Pub. L. 112-95, section 331(6).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    However, as the FAA pointed out in the sUAS Operation and 
Certification NPRM, the statutory definition contains an ambiguity with 
regard to how the 55-pound weight limit should be calculated. The Small 
UAV Coalition and Federal Airways & Airspace supported the inclusion of 
payload in the 55-pound weight limit. Conversely, DJI, the Associated 
General Contractors of America, and an individual commenter questioned 
whether the 55-pound weight limitation should include payload that is 
carried by the small unmanned aircraft. DJI argued that the FAA does 
not consider the weight of payload in its regulations governing the 
operation of ultralights. Kapture Digital Media stated that the total 
weight limit of a small UAS should not include the weight of the 
battery.
    As noted in the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM, the FAA uses 
total takeoff weight for multiple different types of aircraft, 
including large aircraft, light-sport aircraft, and small aircraft.\29\ 
One of the reasons that the FAA uses total takeoff weight in all of 
these regulations is because, in the event of a crash, a heavier 
aircraft can do more damage to people and property on the ground than a 
lighter aircraft. In evaluating this type of risk for a small UAS, it 
is the total mass of the small unmanned aircraft that is important; the 
manner in which that mass is achieved is irrelevant. In other words, a 
50-pound unmanned aircraft carrying 30 pounds of payload does not pose 
a smaller risk than an 80-pound unmanned aircraft that is not carrying 
any payload. As such, this rule will retain the proposed inclusion of 
everything onboard the aircraft in the 55-pound weight limit of a small 
unmanned aircraft.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \29\ See 14 CFR 1.1 (referring to ``takeoff weight'' for large, 
light-sport, and small aircraft in the definitions for those 
aircraft).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) pointed out 
that, although FAA typically points to Maximum Takeoff Weight when 
identifying an aircraft's weight and associated mass, the proposed 
definition of the small UAS does not include the term ``takeoff.'' As 
such, the commenter recommended FAA modify the definition to reference 
the point of takeoff as follows: ``Small unmanned aircraft means an 
unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds including everything 
that is on board the aircraft on takeoff.'' An individual commenter 
stated that the choice of ``on board'' in the definition of ``small 
unmanned aircraft'' will create confusion, because these aircraft 
routinely have ``attached'' external payloads because there is little 
room for internal ``on board'' payloads.
    The FAA agrees with these comments and has modified the proposed 
definition to refer to the total aircraft weight at takeoff and to 
include possible external attachments to the aircraft in the 
calculation of small unmanned aircraft weight. Accordingly, as provided 
in Sec.  1.1, small unmanned aircraft means an unmanned aircraft 
weighing less than 55 pounds on takeoff, including everything that is 
on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft. If the unmanned 
aircraft is tethered by the cable in such a way that the cable, 
securely attached to an immoveable object, prevents the unmanned 
aircraft from flying away in the event of loss of positive control, 
only the portion of the cable which may be lift aloft by the small 
unmanned aircraft must be added to the weight of the unmanned aircraft 
when determining total weight.
3. Small Unmanned Aircraft System (Small UAS)
    Finally, the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM proposed a 
definition of ``small unmanned aircraft system (small UAS)'' as ``a 
small unmanned aircraft and its associated elements (including 
communication links and the components that control the small unmanned 
aircraft) that are required for the safe and efficient operation of the 
small unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system.'' \30\ The 
NPRM explained that, with one exception, this proposed definition would 
be similar to the statutory definition of UAS specified in Public Law 
112-95.\31\ The difference between the two definitions is that the 
proposed definition of small UAS did not refer to a ``pilot in 
command,'' as that position did not exist under the NPRM.\32\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \30\ 80 FR at 9586.
    \31\ 80 FR at 9556 (citing Pub. L. 112-95, section 331(9)).
    \32\ 80 FR at 9556.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    AirShip Technologies supported the proposed definition. Conversely, 
Transport Canada asked the FAA to consider whether it would be better 
to use the ICAO terminology of remotely-piloted aircraft system (RPAS) 
instead of small UAS. Foxtrot Consulting stated that the inclusion of 
the phrase ``associated elements (including communications links and 
the components that control the small unmanned aircraft)'' in the 
definition of small UAS creates a ``regulatory nightmare,'' because it 
means cellular network providers and their infrastructure are 
considered part of a small UAS. The commenter pointed out that small 
UAS can be controlled via Wi-Fi and cellular networks, which opens 
enormous capabilities to small UAS operations. The commenter went on, 
however, to question whether, as a result of the proposed definition, a 
cellular provider is liable if a UAS being controlled through their 
network causes damage to property, serious injury, or death.
    The proposed definition of small UAS is derived from the statutory 
definition of ``unmanned aircraft system'' in Public Law 112-95.\33\ As 
such, this rule will codify the proposed definition.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \33\ Pub. L. 112-95, section 331(9).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Because Congress has selected the term ``unmanned aircraft system'' 
to

[[Page 78606]]

describe this type of a system, the FAA may not use a different term, 
such as RPAS, in this rule. In response to Foxtrot Consulting, the FAA 
notes that the requirements of this rule apply only to the sUAS 
operator, the owner of the small UAS, and people who may be involved in 
the operation of the small UAS. As such, a cellular provider would not 
be in violation of proposed part 107 when their involvement in a small 
UAS operation is limited to the operator's use of the provider's 
infrastructure. Additionally, the FAA does not opine on liability 
issues that are beyond the scope of this rule such as whether the 
provider may be liable to the sUAS operator or third parties under tort 
or contract law.
    The NextGen Air Transportation Program at North Carolina State 
University and one individual commenter recommended FAA specifically 
state that tethered powered small UAS are considered small UAS under 
proposed part 107. In response to these comments, the FAA notes that 
the definition of small UAS in this rule includes tethered powered 
small UAS.
4. Model Aircraft
    This rulemaking includes the definition of the term ``model 
aircraft'' as it appears in section 336 of Public Law 112-95. Thus, in 
this IFR, ``model aircraft'' means an unmanned aircraft that is (1) 
capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere; (2) flown within visual 
line of sight of the person operating the aircraft; and (3) flown for 
hobby or recreational purposes.

C. Exclusion From the Requirement to Register

    Clarification/Request for Information: The DOT and the FAA posed 
the following question in the October 22, 2015 Clarification/Request 
for Information document (80 FR at 63914):

Consistent with past practice of discretion, should certain UAS be 
excluded from registration based on performance capabilities or 
other characteristics that could be associated with safety risk, 
such as weight, speed, altitude operating limitations, duration of 
flight? If so, please submit information or data to help support the 
suggestions, and whether any other criteria should be considered.

    The agency received many comments responding to this inquiry. A few 
commenters said this question is premature because there is 
insufficient data available to determine what, if any, safety risk is 
posed by various categories of UAS. One individual commenter said this 
question should not be asked until after there are ``thorough, 
independent studies available showing the effects of different hobby 
aircraft on the national airspace and potential interference with full 
scale aviation.'' The commenter further stated that once the results of 
that research are available, the public should have an opportunity to 
comment on them. Another individual said the FAA cannot make a 
determination about exclusions from the registration requirement until 
testing is conducted to see what the actual damage would be to 
buildings, cars, people, and manned aircraft from UAS of different 
sizes.
    No unmanned aircraft should be excluded from the requirement of 
registration: Some commenters said that all unmanned aircraft should be 
registered. One individual commenter, for example, asserted that if the 
intent of registration is to have the ability to identify the operator 
of a UAS, then there is no logical reason to base the requirement to 
register on factors such as the speed, performance, capability, or size 
of a UAS. Another individual commenter said all unmanned aircraft 
should be registered because unmanned aircraft of any size or weight 
could pose a safety threat to manned aircraft (including, for example, 
helicopters on emergency or rescue missions that operate at all 
altitudes and from areas other than certificated airports). Chronicled, 
Inc. said that if the registration procedure is ``efficient and 
seamless'' then it should include all unmanned aircraft.
    The National Association of Broadcasters asserted that UAS 
registration is a reasonable step to mitigate the dangers posed by a 
small minority of hobbyist UAS operators that are flying in a careless 
and reckless manner that endangers the public. The City of Arlington 
(Texas) Police Department stated that ``the increasing popularity of 
the recreational use of UAS by model aircraft operators has presented 
significant public safety and regulatory challenges in Arlington and 
our nation's cities,'' and strongly urged the FAA to require the 
registration of all UAS systems. The Air Medical Operators Association 
stated that all UAS capable of entering the NAS and conflicting with 
manned aircraft in flight should be considered aircraft and be subject 
to the registration requirement.
    The Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association (CoAAA) supported 
its position that all UAS need to be registered by pointing out that 
low altitude airspace is already being shared by manned and unmanned 
flight operations ``without any definitive safety protocols beyond 
operate in a safe manner and yield to manned aircraft.'' As the number 
of unmanned aircraft using the airspace increases, the commenter 
continued, so does the potential for a mid-air collision which could 
lead to loss of the aircraft, injuries, or death. CoAAA and the 
National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA) further supported 
their positions that there should be no exemption for light-weight UAS 
by pointing to bird-strike data from a joint report by the FAA and the 
USDA. Comparing the dangers associated with collisions between wildlife 
and civil aircraft to the dangers associated with collisions between 
light-weight UAS and civil aircraft, the commenters asserted that it 
does not take a very large bird to do significant damage to an 
airplane. By way of example, CoAAA noted that mallard ducks (which 
weigh between 1.6 and 3.5 pounds) and turkey vultures (which weigh 
between 1.8 to 5.1 pounds) can break through the windshield of aircraft 
used for agricultural purposes.
    The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) also opposed an 
exemption from the registration requirement for any UAS that operates 
in the NAS. EPIC stated that the size of a UAS is not strictly 
indicative of the privacy risks it poses and, in fact, that smaller UAS 
can more easily conduct ``surreptitious surveillance on unsuspecting 
individuals.''
    Modovolate Aviation, LLC and a number of individual commenters 
recommended a limited exemption for unmanned aircraft that are operated 
exclusively indoors.
    All model aircraft should be excluded from the requirement of 
registration: A large number of commenters recommended an exemption 
from the registration requirement for model aircraft. These commenters 
included many individual members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics 
(AMA), as well as other members of the recreational/hobby community. 
Among the reasons given by commenters for this position were the facts 
that traditional model aircraft have a long history of safe operations 
and that the FAA is not authorized to regulate model aircraft. The 
Aerospace Industries Association said the exemption of ``hobby 
platforms'' from registration would enhance the viability of the 
registration process by allowing the focus of the registry to remain on 
``commercial use platforms.''
    With respect to which aircraft would qualify as ``model aircraft'' 
for the purposes of an exemption from the registration requirement, 
some commenters said that any model aircraft flown recreationally 
should be exempt. One individual commenter asserted that

[[Page 78607]]

other countries, such as Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom have 
made this distinction between recreational and commercial use and not 
required registration of recreational use aircraft. The Minnesota 
Department of Transportation also stated that it has not required UAS 
operated solely for recreational use to register. Many other commenters 
specifically stated that any model aircraft operated within the safety 
programming of the AMA should be considered ``model aircraft'' and not 
``UAS'' and therefore exempt from the registration requirement. A large 
number of those commenters asserted that the AMA has ``an impeccable 
80-year track record of operating safely,'' and that requiring AMA 
members to register their aircraft will have no impact on that safety 
record. Several commenters recommended that the FAA require model 
aircraft operators to become AMA members. Some other commenters said 
that any model aircraft that meets the definition of model aircraft 
contained in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 should be 
exempt from the registration requirement.
    A number of individual commenters highlighted the distinction 
between traditional model aircraft that are home built or assembled 
from kits (which they characterized as separate from UAS) and Ready to 
Fly (RTF) aircraft that do not require assembly (which they 
characterized as UAS). These commenters claimed that traditional model 
aircraft do not pose a safety risk to the NAS because they are flown 
strictly within the operator's visual line of sight, have no autonomous 
control, and have fairly limited ranges. Some commenters also pointed 
out that model aircraft that are operated within the auspices of the 
AMA can only be flown at AMA-sanctioned fields and must already display 
the owner's AMA member ID. Commenters contrasted these models with 
ready-to-fly aircraft, which are easy to operate, capable of vertical 
take-off, payload carrying and flying autonomously and beyond visual 
line of sight, and are often equipped with other enhanced capabilities, 
such as cameras, GPS systems, and remote viewing electronics. 
Commenters asserted that the problems that have prompted the FAA to 
require registration are due to the proliferation of these ready-to-fly 
aircraft that can be flown beyond visual line of sight. One commenter 
said ``their ease of use, intuitive controls, and overall availability 
have created a perfect storm, wherein inexperienced flyers are flying 
in inappropriate and/or dangerous places.''
    Some commenters recommended a blanket exemption for home-built 
model aircraft. One commenter explained that home-built models should 
be exempt from registration because individuals who build their own 
model aircraft ``have the time, experience, personal investment and 
motivation to be aware of and observe safe modeling practices.'' 
Another commenter asserted that exempting home- or scratch-built model 
aircraft ``will allow experimenters, programmers, developers and beta 
testers to exercise their creativity without complicating or impeding 
the creative process with unnecessary restrictions.'' Other commenters 
did not request a blanket exemption for home-built model aircraft but 
instead recommended exemptions based on performance capabilities, which 
would necessarily exclude traditional model aircraft. Those 
recommendations are discussed below.
    Unmanned aircraft under a certain weight should be excluded from 
the requirement of registration: Many commenters recommended that the 
FAA create an exemption from the registration requirement for UAS that 
fall below a minimum weight threshold. One individual commenter said 
the FAA needs to collect some real data to determine the weight below 
which unmanned aircraft no longer pose a threat to people or manned 
aircraft. Another individual commenter stated any weight threshold 
chosen for exemption needs to be determined based on kinetic energy and 
lethality studies. Other commenters made both general and specific 
recommendations for a minimum weight threshold.
    Some individuals based their recommendations on a comparison 
between the risks to manned aircraft from bird strikes and the risks 
from collisions with unmanned aircraft. One commenter said that any 
aircraft over the weight of a mallard duck should be registered. 
Another commenter recommended an exemption for UAS ``which present a 
risk equivalent or less than an acceptable bird strike.'' Another 
commenter recommended an exemption for UAS that weigh less than 1.5 
times the heaviest flying bird's weight. Another commenter noted that 
the FAA has regulations that define the requirements for aircraft to 
withstand impact from birds (14 CFR 25.631) and engine ingestion from 
birds (14 CFR 33.76), and recommended the FAA exempt any unmanned 
aircraft that would have equal or less impact than a bird with the 
characteristics described in those existing regulations. Another 
individual commenter said a threshold weight of 2 pounds is ``entirely 
reasonable'' because crows weigh between 0.7 and 2.6 pounds. Another 
commenter stated that a weight threshold of 1 kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) 
is appropriate because it represents a small risk factor based on an 
FAA wildlife strike report that says ``species with body masses < 1 
kilogram (2.2 lbs) are excluded from database.'' \34\ Another 
individual commenter asserted that a weight threshold of 5 pounds is 
appropriate because damage is likely to be minimal in an emergency 
event and because manned aircraft already must have the ability to 
withstand a similar bird strike.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \34\ Wildlife Strikes to Civil Aircraft in the United States 
1990-2014 (July 2015), available at http://www.faa.gov/airports/airport_safety/wildlife/media/Wildlife-Strike-Report-1990-2014.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some commenters based their recommendations on the weight threshold 
proposed by the FAA in the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM for a 
possible micro UAS classification.\35\ The News Media Coalition said 
that if the FAA adopts special rules for micro UAS, then those micro 
UAS should be exempt from the registration requirement. Aviation 
Management Associates, Inc. similarly stated that the weight threshold 
for registration should be 4.4 pounds--the weight proposed in the sUAS 
Operation and Certification NPRM--``or lesser weight if it is 
determined vehicles of less than 4.4 pounds create an unacceptable 
safety risk.'' Aviation Management qualified its recommendation, 
however, by asserting that no UAS that weighs less than 1.5 pounds 
should be required to register. A few individual commenters also stated 
that the weight threshold for registration should be in line with the 
weight threshold chosen for a micro UAS classification.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \35\ The sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM considered the 
creation of a micro UAS classification for UAS weighing no more than 
4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) for purposes of operation and certification 
requirements. 80 FR at 9556-9558.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Agricultural Technology Alliance (ATA) asserted that if the FAA 
issues a blanket exemption from the registration requirement for all 
micro UAS registration, it can better focus its efforts on higher-risk 
UAS without compromising safety. ATA also noted that Canada has a 
similar exemption for micro UAS.
    A number of commenters, including Aviation Management Associates, 
Inc., the National Retail Federation and numerous individuals, asserted 
that the FAA should exempt UAS that fit into the ``toy'' category. Many 
of those

[[Page 78608]]

commenters did not suggest a minimum weight threshold for a toy 
category. Several individual commenters suggested the FAA use the AMA's 
guidelines for the Park Flyer Program (i.e., aircraft weighing 2 pounds 
or less) to define what qualifies as a ``toy'' for purposes of this 
exclusion.
    The Toy Industry Association said that for purposes of defining 
products that should be exempt from the registration requirement, it is 
not necessary to create an independent ``toy UAS'' category that is 
separate from the category of unmanned aircraft that should be exempt 
from registration requirements ``due to their lower risk.'' 
Specifically, the association discouraged the FAA from creating a 
``toy'' category based on factors unrelated to operational safety, such 
as cost of the UAS, how it is marketed, or where it is sold, and 
encouraged the agency to ``instead look at targeted UAS performance 
indicators that directly speak to the operational risk of the product 
and exempt all UAS that fit in that category.'' The Toy Industry 
Association highlighted the weight of the UAS as ``the most risk-
related and measurable variable.'' The commenter noted that most of its 
members manufacture UAS that are below 1 kilogram, but that certain UAS 
that weigh more than 1 kilogram should also be considered for exemption 
(i.e., products intended to be flown indoors, products than can only 
fly relatively low, and products that are equipped with technology that 
makes the product safer, such as crash avoidance technology or 
technology that limits the height the UAS can fly).
    Prox Dynamics stated that smaller and lighter air vehicles 
generally display less risk than larger ones. The company asserted, for 
example, that ``a fly-sized low energy drone has negligible risk, even 
if a direct impact is considered.'' The company further asserted that a 
class of ``inherently safe'' aircraft exists that should be exempt from 
the registration requirement. Specifically, the company recommended an 
exemption for aircraft with a maximum weight of less than 60 grams. A 
few individual commenters suggested 3.3 pounds because that weight is 
used as a threshold for regulating model rockets. Horizon Hobby 
recommended that products with a gross weight of less than 2 kilograms 
be exempt from the registration requirement, which the commenter 
asserted is in line with current FAA-approved exemption for hobby uses. 
An individual commenter stated that rules already exists for other 
unmanned objects operating in the NAS, including kites, balloons and 
rockets (14 CFR part 101), and that the FAA should follow the precedent 
set by those rules and only regulate UAS heavier than 4 to 6 pounds. 
Other commenters also recommended specific weight thresholds for 
exemption from the registration requirement ranging from 60 grams on 
the low end to 100-150 pounds on the high end.
    A few individual commenters framed their proposals in terms of 
payload weight. One commenter recommended an exemption for unmanned 
aircraft that are not capable of carrying a payload of more than 1 or 2 
pounds. Another commenter recommended that registration be required for 
unmanned aircraft that are capable of carrying more than 10 pounds of 
payload. Another commenter said registration be required for any 
unmanned aircraft that weighs more than 8 or 10 pounds and can carry a 
load of its weight or higher. An individual commenter asserted that 
even small, relatively light-weight models have dangerous rotors and 
can carry a risk of doing damage if they collide with, or are ingested 
into the engine of, a full-scale aircraft. This commenter further 
asserted that technology is advancing to enable a single control 
station to operate multiple UAS in a coordinate way, and a ``swarm'' of 
otherwise light-weight UAS would be dangerous if flown into the path of 
a full-scale aircraft.
    Some commenters recommended minimum weight thresholds for specific 
types of UAS. A number of commenters, for example, said model aircraft 
that do not operate within existing AMA rules should be above 5 pounds 
to trigger the registration requirement. Another individual commenter 
said that only model aircraft that are one-half scale or larger should 
be subject to registration. One individual commenter recommended a 1 
kilogram (2.2 pound) threshold for multicopters. The commenter noted 
that this threshold is commonly used in Europe and the United Kingdom. 
Another individual commenter recommended a weight threshold of 25 
pounds for fixed-wing UAS and 10 pounds for non-fixed-wing UAS. One 
individual commenter recommended an exemption for quadcopters under 
1,500 grams, while another individual commenter recommended an 
exemption for quadcopters under 20 pounds. One individual commenter 
recommended an exemption for ``toy'' unmanned aircraft that are 1 pound 
or less and registration only if used above 300 feet for ``mini'' UAS 
weighing between 1 and 7 pounds. A few commenters recommended an 
exemption for small unmanned aircraft that are made out of foam, 
although the individual did not specify a weight threshold for these 
aircraft.
    Unmanned aircraft with certain performance capabilities should be 
excluded from the requirement of registration: A large number of 
individual commenters recommended that the registration requirement 
apply only to UAS that possess certain performance capabilities or 
aircraft specifications. Many of those commenters, including 
individuals who submitted comments as part of an AMA form letter 
campaign, said the registration requirement should apply only to 
unmanned aircraft that have the ability to operate beyond the 
operator's visual line of sight. Other commenters, including Aviation 
Management Associates, Inc. and numerous individuals, also said that 
unmanned aircraft that are capable of beyond visual line of sight 
operations should be registered, but those commenters did not say that 
such unmanned aircraft are the only small unmanned aircraft that should 
be registered.
    In addition to the ability to operate beyond visual line of sight, 
commenters recommended that the registration requirement apply only to 
unmanned aircraft that have one or more of the following performance 
capabilities:

Have the ability to fly autonomously.
Have automated control functions such as ``return-to-home.''
Have RNAV capabilities (either through satellite base navigation or 
through inertial navigation).
Have first person view capabilities.
Have an onboard navigational system.
Are equipped with GPS.
Take off vertically.
Are capable of hovering.
Are capable of hovering during normal operation and are equipped 
with onboard photo or video recording equipment.
Are capable of automated or remote-controlled pickup or drop-off of 
a payload.
Are equipped with an onboard camera or audio recording equipment.
Can transmit a video signal at more than \1/4\ mile.
Are capable of flight for longer than a specified minimum period of 
time.
Have a range that exceeds a specified minimum distance. One 
commenter characterized this as ``electronic line of site.''
Have the ability to fly above a specified minimum altitude.
Are capable of entering controlled or restricted airspace.

    Some commenters suggested some minimum weight threshold in 
combination with one or more of the above-listed capabilities.
    A group of academics recommended the FAA adopt a progressive 
approach that requires registration for only the most problematic 
technologies--which

[[Page 78609]]

they asserted to be long-range first person view and GPS waypoint 
navigation--and then ``transparently assess'' the results of this 
registration. These commenters noted that if the FAA determines that 
conventional model aircraft are still creating an undue hazard for 
aviation, then additional measures (such as a requirement for low-cost 
pressure altimeters that limit model aircraft below 400 feet) could be 
implemented.
    The Aerospace Industries Association said that only aircraft 
capable of sustained, untethered flight should be registered. A few 
individual commenters similarly recommended exemptions for aircraft 
that are control-line operated (i.e., tethered flight), that are hand-
thrown or rubber-band powered (i.e., ``free flight'' aircraft), and 
that are unpowered (e.g., gliders).
    Several members of the ``free flight'' community specifically 
recommended that the FAA create an exemption for light-weight, free 
flight model aircraft that weigh 10 ounces or less and have no means of 
externally controlling their aircraft while in flight.
    Another individual similarly asserted that speed, altitude, and 
flight duration will depend on battery, motor, and propeller size, and 
that weight should therefore be used to determine which UAS should be 
exempt from the registration requirement. The commenter noted that 
consideration of factors such as speed, altitude, and flight duration 
raises the question of what defines the actual UAS (e.g., the fuselage 
for a plane, the frame of a quadcopter). The commenter further noted 
that the same fuselage can have dramatically different performance 
characteristics if the battery, motor, or propeller is changed. The 
commenter asserted that registering each combination ``would be 
absurd,'' and any change in propeller, motor, or battery size would 
raise questions of when an owner needs to re-register the aircraft.
    There were commenters, however, who disagreed with a requirement to 
register UAS that possess some of the above-listed capabilities. An 
individual commenter, for example, said that enhanced capabilities such 
as first person view or flight controls capable of autonomous flight 
should not be a reason for requiring registration. The commenter 
claimed that an aircraft that does not exceed safe mass/speed/altitude/
duration thresholds is not automatically a threat to manned aircraft 
simply by virtue of being equipped with enhanced capabilities. Another 
individual commenter said that small UAS equipped with GPS should not 
automatically be required to register because some small UAS flown by 
beginners use GPS to stabilize the aircraft, which increases their 
safety level. The commenter noted that these UAS have controls that 
will not let the aircraft fly above a certain altitude. Several 
commenters said that any requirement to register all UAS that have the 
ability to fly above a certain altitude or to enter controlled airspace 
should exclude UAS that are programmed with geofencing or ``Safe Fly'' 
technology, which limits altitude and restricts flight into controlled 
airspace. The Toy Industry Association cautioned against using altitude 
as a threshold for registration. The commenter noted that not all 
companies use technology that limits the height a UAS can fly and that 
it would be premature to spell out specific technological requirement 
to ensure that UAS fly below a certain altitude when other technology 
advancements may develop that achieve the same purpose. The Toy 
Industry Association also asserted that the issue of whether a UAS is 
equipped with a camera is not relevant to registration. The association 
stated that, while there are legitimate privacy concerns to consider, 
``this conversation should not take place in the context of the 
aviation industry safety at this time.''
    The National Retail Federation said that unmanned aircraft ``that 
are designated as `toys' with limited performance capabilities'' should 
be exempt from the registration process. The commenter did not, 
however, specify what qualifies as ``toys,'' or what performance 
capabilities would remove an unmanned aircraft from the ``toy'' 
category. Rather, the commenter said the FAA should require 
registration based on potential safety and security risks associated 
with performance capabilities or material specifications of the 
unmanned aircraft, or the age of the operator.
    Some commenters stated more generally that aircraft capabilities 
should not be a consideration for exemption from registration. One 
individual said speed, altitude, and flight duration should not be 
criteria for registration because they can vary depending on a wide-
variety of ``user-selectable UAS components'' such as props choice, 
battery size, and flight mode, among others. Another individual said 
that because unmanned aircraft are constantly changing and evolving, it 
would be a poor choice to develop limitations based on performance. 
Several other individuals stated that registration should only be 
required if the operator intends to operate in the same airspace as 
manned aircraft. A few other individuals said all UAS flown in public 
spaces should be registered, regardless of aircraft capabilities. 
Another individual said capabilities of the aircraft have nothing to do 
with whether it is a safety risk or not; rather, it is the practices of 
the pilot that determine the safety risk.
    Unmanned aircraft should be excluded based on operations conducted: 
Some commenters said that unmanned aircraft should be excluded from the 
registration requirement based on operations, rather than weight or 
aircraft specifications and capabilities. Modovolate Aviation, LLC and 
a number of individual commenters recommended a limited exemption for 
UAS that are operated exclusively indoors. As noted above, many 
commenters said that small UAS that are operated within the operator's 
visual line of sight, or below a minimum altitude, or below a certain 
speed, should be exempt from the registration requirement. Also noted 
above, some individual commenters recommended an exemption from the 
registration requirement for UAS that are flown under AMA safety 
guidelines on AMA-sanctioned flying fields. A few other individual 
commenters recommended an exemption for UAS that are operated, with 
permission, over private property. Another individual commenter 
recommended an exemption for UAS engaged in semi-commercial/
agricultural operations that are conducted under 500 feet above ground 
level and over sparely populated areas. Another individual commenter 
recommended an exemption for UAS flying over ``largely unpopulated 
areas.'' Several individual commenters said the registration 
requirement should not apply to UAS that are used at schools and 
institutions for educational purposes. Another individual commenter 
recommended an exemption for UAS used for non-profit purposes.
    The US Drone Racing Association said that drones used for racing--
which generally stay under 100 feet and within visual line of sight--
should not be required to register, unless their operations exceed some 
minimum operational thresholds such as beyond visual line of sight, 
range over half mile, or above 400 feet.
    An individual commenter noted that, due to radio restrictions for 
video transmissions, first person view pilots are required by law to 
have a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license for any 
transmitter over 25mW. Because those pilots are already required to 
register and place identifying markings on the transmitter,

[[Page 78610]]

the commenter recommended an exemption from the FAA registration 
requirement for a first person view pilot with an FCC license.
    Other commenters phrased their recommendations in terms of UAS 
operations that should be included in the registration requirement. A 
number of commenters, including Aviation Management Associates, Inc. 
and many individuals, said any UAS used for commercial purposes should 
be registered. Several individual commenters said UAS operated in 
controlled airspace should be required to register. Another individual 
commenter said registration should be required for UAS that operate 
over private property, at altitudes over 400 feet, over populated 
areas, and within 5 miles of an airport.
    Other comments on whether certain UAS should be excluded from the 
registration requirement: Some commenters recommended registration 
requirements based on aircraft type. Several individuals said that all 
fixed-wing UAS should be exempt from registration. A few other 
individuals said that only multirotor UAS should be required to 
register (because they are easy to fly and can take off from anywhere). 
Other categories of UAS that commenters said should be included in the 
registration requirements were high-volume production aircraft (i.e., 
models produced in volumes greater than a specified value, such as 
5,000 or 10,000 units per year) and UAS powered by gas/oil mixes. Some 
commenters suggested that UAS be excluded from the registration 
requirement based on frame size or prop size.
    A number of commenters recommended a combination of factors to 
consider when determining what, if any, category of UAS should be 
excluded from the registration requirement.
    Aviation Management Associates, Inc., said the FAA should exempt 
``any small UAS regardless of weight that is limited by manufacturing 
firmware or other acceptable means to operating below 500 feet above 
ground level, will not exceed a \1/2\ range mile from the operator and 
the associated ground control station, as well as provides geo-fencing 
and altitude limitations that meets FAA exclusionary airspace.''
    The Property Drone Consortium stated that micro-drones of some 
maximum weight, speed, and altitude should be exempt from registration. 
The commenter suggested the following possible thresholds: Weight under 
1 pound, 15-20 mph maximum flight speed, and an altitude of under 100 
feet. The commenter also stated that an assessment could be made based 
on joules of imparted energy. The commenter further stated that region 
of operation should also be a point of consideration for a possible 
exemption from the registration requirement.
    The Retail Industry Leaders Association said the FAA should adopt a 
risk-based approach and only require registration of UAS that present 
the greatest safety risks, based on consideration of factors including: 
Product weight and overall size, operating range, maximum speed, 
maximum altitude, fragility, and GPS and other navigation capability. 
Travelers Insurance Company similarly asserted that any unmanned 
aircraft that the FAA determines poses a risk to the national airspace 
or causes serious bodily injury or property damage should be 
registered. The commenter went on to say that the FAA should exercise 
discretion with respect to unmanned aircraft ``that are so light in 
weight and lacking in capabilities so as to pose no meaningful threat 
to persons, property or the national airspace.'' The commenter did not, 
however, specify what weight or what limited capabilities should be 
used as a threshold for registration.
    Latitude Engineering, LLC asserted that ``there exists a threshold 
of mass and speed under which the risk associated with the flight of an 
unregistered commercial UAS is more than offset by the value returned 
to the public.'' The company stated that it reached this conclusion 
after evaluating the kinetic energy of various UAS airframe 
configurations from first principals and drawing from studies such as 
``UAS Safety Analysis'' by Exponent (Dec. 16, 2014). The company's 
specific recommendation was to exempt UAS that are near the following 
values: Mass of an upper limit of 1 pound, speed limited to 50 knots, 
and altitude limited to 200 feet above ground level or 100 feet from 
the highest obstacle within 200 lateral feet. The company also asserted 
that no unregulated flights should be allowed within 5 miles of an 
airport.
    Delair-Tech asserted that it would make sense for a category of 
unmanned aircraft associated with a low risk of accidental damage to be 
exempt from registration. The company defined this category as unmanned 
aircraft that weigh less than 1 kilogram and have a flight performance 
that is limited to 50 meters in height. The company based its 
recommendation on the ``toys and mini-drones'' category defined by the 
European Aviation Safety Agency in Ref 5, Proposal 14.
    ATA stated that the FAA should exempt from the registration 
requirement any UAS that is to be used solely in rural areas, which the 
commenter said should be defined as a certain distance from an airport 
or a major population center. ATA noted that Canada also has an 
exemption for operations in low-risk rural areas.
    EPIC noted that the registration scheme, as currently envisioned, 
does little to solve the problem of identifying a UAS or UAS operator 
because the only UAS that will be identifiable are those that are 
recovered after a crash. EPIC also noted that the current registration 
plan does nothing to inform the public of surveillance capabilities of 
the drone, which is necessary to make UAS operators accountable to the 
public.
    Another individual said the important criteria for a registration 
determination are wingspan dimensions, propeller diameter and type, 
energy source, and weight. Another individual stated that exemptions 
should be based on weight, speed, and operating height. This commenter 
suggested the FAA use a formula to calculate a UAS's impact energy, 
where ``E'' is the impact energy, ``m'' is the mass, ``v'' is the 
maximum flight speed, ``g'' is gravitational acceleration (constant), 
and ``h'' is the height. This commenter stated that FAA could conduct a 
comprehensive study to determine the critical value of impact energy, 
and users could calculate the impact energy of their UAS, simply by 
filling the mass, maximum flights speed, and maximum height into an 
online formula available on the FAA Web site. Another individual said 
most ``hobby class UAS'' should be excluded from registration based on 
the empty weight of the aircraft and the potential kinetic energy of 
the unit. This commenter asserted that there is precedent for this 
method and that it has worked reasonably well with part 103 ultralight 
vehicles and light sport aircraft. This commenter claimed that a 55-
pound model aircraft flown at 60 mph has around 12% of the kinetic 
energy of a part 103 vehicle traveling at the same speed, even with a 
payload of 40% of the empty weight. This commenter further claimed that 
a typical motorcycle driven at 40 mph would have nearly 4 times the 
kinetic energy of a 55-pound UAS flying at 60 mph. This commenter 
asserted that society accepts this level of risk for pedestrians, and 
questioned why one-quarter of that level of risk posed by an out-of-
control UAS would also not be acceptable.
    Task Force Recommendation: The Task Force accepted as a baseline 
that the registration requirement will only apply to small unmanned 
aircraft (i.e.,

[[Page 78611]]

aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds) that are operated outdoors in 
the NAS. Beyond that baseline, however, the FAA asked the Task Force 
for recommendations regarding additional minimum requirements for small 
unmanned aircraft that would need to be registered. In particular, the 
agency asked the Task Force to consider factors including, but not 
limited to, technical capabilities and operational capabilities such as 
size, weight, speed, payload, equipage, and other factors such as the 
age of the operator.
    The safety of the non-flying public and of other users of the NAS 
was central to the Task Force's determination of what category of small 
unmanned aircraft to recommend for exemption from the registration 
requirement. With considerations of safety in mind, the Task Force 
addressed the possibility of recommending an exclusion based on various 
factors, including: Weight (alone and in combination with altitude or 
kinetic energy), mass, speed, kinetic energy, payload, equipage (e.g., 
camera, GPS), and operational capabilities, such as the ability to 
navigate the airspace, the ability to operate above a certain altitude 
above ground level, the ability to operate beyond the visual line of 
sight of the operator, the ability to operate autonomously, and flight 
duration.
    The Task Force ultimately agreed to use a mass-based approach to 
determine an appropriate category of small unmanned aircraft to 
recommend for exclusion from the registration requirement. This was 
based upon the probability of a catastrophic event occurring (i.e., 
death or serious injury) due to a collision between a small unmanned 
aircraft and a person on the ground. The Task Force further stated that 
because of the lack of data on unmanned aircraft-aircraft collisions, 
engine ingestion, and propeller impacts by unmanned aircraft, the 
probability of a catastrophic event occurring due to those events was 
not part of its consideration. Rather, the task force noted that 
research in this area continues and as it becomes available, this 
threshold should be evaluated and adjusted accordingly. This approach 
best satisfied the Task Force's concerns about safety and provided a 
minimum weight threshold for registration that is easy to understand 
and apply and would therefore encourage compliance.
    The formula considered by the task force is a standard aviation 
risk assessment formula used in consideration of manned aircraft 
safety. For ease of administration and small unmanned aircraft owner 
understanding, the Task Force strongly advised a mass-based approach 
for determining the generally safe threshold below which a small 
unmanned aircraft system would not need to be registered.
    The Task Force recommended that the FAA should exempt from the 
registration requirement any small unmanned aircraft weighing 250 grams 
(g) or less. The 250 grams or less exclusion was based on a maximum 
weight. The Task Force assumed maximum weight was defined as the 
maximum weight possible including the aircraft, payload, and any other 
associated weight.
    The Task Force proposed this mass by considering: The maximum free-
fall kinetic energy of a small unmanned aircraft from 500 feet (ft) 
above ground level; research papers assessing the lethality of inert 
debris based on kinetic energy; and a determination of the probability 
that a small unmanned aircraft with potentially lethal kinetic energy 
would strike a person on the ground. The Task Force's recommendation 
assumed population density for a densely packed urban environment, as 
well as a conservative estimate of the percentage of people in that 
crowded environment who may be unprotected and susceptible to injury 
from a falling small unmanned aircraft. To determine the probability of 
an accident, the Task Force provided an estimate of the mean time 
between failure (MTBF) for small unmanned aircraft. Mathematically, the 
Task Force predicts that the likelihood of a fatal accident involving a 
small unmanned aircraft weighing 250g or less is 4.7 x 10-8, 
or less than 1 ground fatality for every 20 million flight hours of 
small unmanned aircraft 250g or less. The Task Force noted that the 
acceptable risk level for commercial air transportation is on the order 
of 1 x 10-9, and general aviation risk levels are on the 
order of 5 x 0-0.
    The Task Force emphasized that this recommendation is conditioned 
on the premise that this and the Task Force's other recommendations 
will be accepted, without alteration. Certain members of the Task Force 
asked that it be noted that this is a nascent industry with very little 
experiential data to inform the assumptions and that periodic review of 
the data may be warranted. Certain Task Force members noted that the 
FAA's 25 years of bird strike data show that fatal aircraft accidents 
caused by small and medium birds (weighing four pounds on average) are 
extremely rare despite the presence of billions of birds within the low 
altitudes where small UAS typically fly, and urged the FAA to select a 
weight that posed a similar safety risk. Task Force members 
representing manned aircraft organizations expressed specific concerns 
that data on UAS-aircraft collisions, engine ingestion, propeller, and 
rotor impacts by UAS was not available when determining the weight 
threshold. All members urged the FAA to expedite its work currently 
underway in this area. The Task Force also emphasized that 250-gram 
weight threshold was agreed to for registration purposes only and was 
not a validation of the underlying assumptions for any purpose other 
than the registration requirement. All Task Force members agreed that 
the threshold should not be used by the FAA as an index for operational 
restrictions or categories in any future rulemaking unless safety 
concerns require the FAA to take appropriate action.
    IFR Requirement: The FAA has considered the comments received to 
the Clarification/Request for Information and the Task Force 
recommendations. As noted above, the formula considered by the Task 
Force is a risk assessment approach that results in a method to 
determine which small unmanned aircraft are required to be registered. 
In recognition of the potential risks posed by small unmanned aircraft 
highlighted by the Task Force's work, the FAA agrees with the Task 
Force recommendation and generally agrees with its approach for 
purposes of aircraft registration only. The Task Force recommendation 
results in a simple, straight forward method to determine which 
aircraft should be registered. Accordingly, this rulemaking adopts the 
Task Force recommendation to exclude small unmanned aircraft weighing 
an equivalent of 250 grams or less. (FAA is using the pound equivalent 
of 250 grams-0.55 pounds.) The agency emphasizes, however, that the 
Task Force approach may be different from the approach that will be 
used in the sUAS Operation and Certification rulemaking to develop 
operating requirements.
    The FAA recognizes that the Task Force recommendation strikes a 
balance between many stakeholders, including modelers, unmanned 
aircraft manufacturers, operators, retailers, and the manned aviation 
community. As this aviation sector continues to develop, operating 
experience and new technologies may compel the agency to reconsider the 
appropriate weight threshold for unmanned aircraft registration. 
Additionally, new research may necessitate a change from the weight-
based approach recommended by the Task Force. Since the Task Force's 
methodology only assessed the

[[Page 78612]]

risk to individuals on the ground, the agency recognizes that 
additional research is necessary to evaluate the risk of collisions 
between small unmanned aircraft and manned aircraft. The FAA has 
several tests, both in-progress and planned, in collaboration with our 
UAS Test Sites and UAS Center of Excellence.
    The FAA considered comments that advocated for the use of weight in 
combination with other factors and determined that these scenarios 
would be more difficult to implement and could cause confusion. The FAA 
also considered comments that recommended exclusions from the 
registration requirement based on operational limitations, e.g., 
altitude, speed, visual line of sight operations only. However, at this 
time, the FAA is concerned that these approaches could stifle 
innovation in the ongoing and rapid development of sUAS technology. 
Thus, the FAA determined that these were not viable methods to create 
exclusions.
    Regarding commenters who recommended that the FAA exclude certain 
aircraft from the requirement of registration based on the locations at 
which those aircraft would be operated (e.g., private property), such 
an approach would defeat the purpose of registration, which is to 
identify aircraft throughout the NAS and the owners of such aircraft. 
Registration based on intended location would not address that intent 
because the NAS extends over private property. In response to the 
comments urging the exclusion of some or all model aircraft from the 
registration requirement, the FAA has determined that doing so would be 
contrary to the policy adopted in the October 22, 2015 Clarification/
Request for Information.
    In response to the comments urging the exclusion of some or all 
model aircraft from the registration requirement, as stated in the 
Clarification/Request for Information, model aircraft are indeed 
aircraft and thus they are subject to the statutory requirement of 
aircraft registration. 80 FR at 63913-63914.
    In response to the commenters who advocated for a limited exemption 
for unmanned aircraft operated exclusively indoors, the FAA reiterates 
that the requirement of registration pertains to aircraft operated in 
the NAS, thus outdoors. An exception is not required to stipulate that 
small unmanned aircraft operated exclusively indoors are not required 
to register with the FAA.
    Regarding comments received to the Clarification/Request for 
Information pertaining to the micro UAS proposal contained in the sUAS 
Operation and Certification NPRM, the FAA notes that issues pertaining 
to weight classifications for purposes of sUAS operation and 
certification purposes are outside of the scope of this rulemaking.
    Regarding comments pertaining to privacy and operational concerns, 
the agency clarifies that this rulemaking is intended only to provide 
relief from the existing part 47 registration requirements. Pursuant to 
the Presidential Memorandum issued on February 15, 2015, Promoting 
Economic Competitiveness While Safeguarding Privacy, Civil Rights, and 
Civil Liberties in Domestic Use of UAS, the National Telecommunications 
and Information Administration (NTIA) is leading a multi-stakeholder 
engagement process to develop and communicate best practices for 
privacy, accountability, and transparency issues regarding commercial 
and private use of UAS in the NAS, and will address these issues 
through that process.

D. Eligibility To Register

1. Citizenship
    This final rule includes the statutory eligibility requirements for 
aircraft registration as required by 49 U.S.C. 44102. An aircraft may 
be registered under 49 U.S.C. 44103 only when the aircraft is not 
registered under the laws of a foreign country and is owned by (1) a 
citizen of the United States; (2) an individual citizen of a foreign 
country lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States; 
or (3) a corporation not a citizen of the United States when the 
corporation is organized and doing business under the laws of the 
United States or a State, and the aircraft is based and primarily used 
in the United States. The FAA may also register aircraft owned by the 
United States government or a State or local governmental entity. See 
49 U.S.C. 44102. Part 47 includes these statutory eligibility 
requirements.
    sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM: The sUAS Operation and 
Certification NPRM addressed the applicability of the statutory 
aircraft-registration requirement by proposing to require all small 
unmanned aircraft subject to the proposal to be registered pursuant to 
the existing registration process of part 47. See 80 FR 9574. The NPRM 
did not address issues pertaining to the eligibility to register 
(including citizenship).
    Although the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM did not address 
the issue of aircraft owner citizenship as it relates to small unmanned 
aircraft in part 47, one commenter to the NPRM raised the issue. DJI 
acknowledged the constraints the statutory aircraft registration 
requirements place on the FAA, but believed that those restrictions 
prevent most foreign citizens from operating a small UAS commercially 
in the United States. DJI presumed that tourists operating small UAS as 
model aircraft would be allowed to do so. DJI urged the FAA to consider 
asking Congress either to drop the aircraft registration requirement 
for all small UAS altogether or to withdraw the citizenship requirement 
(including its limited exceptions).
    Clarification/Request for Information: Rotor Sport recommended 
against requiring U.S. citizenship for registration of small UAS 
because it would be ``severely detrimental'' to the rotor sport 
industry. In particular, Rotor Sport stated that requiring citizenship 
for small UAS that are already governed by the Amateur Competitive 
Sport regulations of the AMA ``would severely and financially impact 
international drone racing events, including the 2016 World Drone 
Racing Championship being held in Hawaii.''
    Task Force: As part of its discussions regarding who should 
register a small unmanned aircraft, the Task Force addressed the issue 
of citizenship status of applicants for registration. Considering the 
goals of encouraging the growth of the UAS industry and compliance with 
the registration requirement, the Task Force recommended there be no 
U.S. citizenship or residency requirement for registration eligibility. 
If, however, the FAA does include a U.S. citizenship requirement, the 
Task Force recommended that the agency use its discretion to permit 
non-citizen owners to operate in the U.S. by applying for a waiver from 
the registration requirement for a specified period of time (consistent 
with 49 U.S.C. 41703(a)(4)). The Task Force believed that eliminating 
the citizenship requirement would help achieve the goal that small 
unmanned aircraft owners are known to the FAA for safety purposes.
    IFR Requirement: While the FAA can make certain changes to the 
registration system regarding the types of information to be collected, 
and how that information is collected, the statutory requirements 
pertaining to citizenship in 49 U.S.C. 44102 are clear. The statutory 
citizenship criteria must be satisfied in order to obtain a certificate 
of U.S. registration.
    As noted above, registration is just one requirement that must be 
satisfied in order to operate an aircraft in the U.S. With respect to 
the operation of unmanned aircraft, Article 8 of the

[[Page 78613]]

Convention on International Civil Aviation, signed at Chicago on 7 
December 1944 and amended by the ICAO Assembly (Doc 7300) addresses 
`pilotless aircraft' and states that:

No aircraft capable of being flown without a pilot shall be flown 
without a pilot over the territory of a contracting State without 
special authorization by that State and in accordance with the terms 
of such authorization. Each contracting State undertakes to insure 
that the flight of such aircraft without a pilot in regions open to 
civil aircraft shall be so controlled as to obviate danger to civil 
aircraft.

    For those that do not satisfy the citizenship requirements for U.S. 
registration, consistent with the authority in 49 U.S.C. 41703, the 
Secretary may authorize certain foreign civil aircraft to be navigated 
in the U.S. only (1) if the country of registry grants a similar 
privilege to aircraft of the U.S.; (2) by an airman holding a 
certificate or license issued or made valid by the U.S. government or 
the country of registry; (3) if the Secretary authorizes the 
navigation; and (4) if the navigation is consistent with the terms the 
Secretary may prescribe. See also 14 CFR part 375, Navigation of 
Foreign Civil Aircraft in the United States.
    In this instance, with respect to those individuals who do not 
satisfy the citizenship requirements and yet wish to conduct model 
aircraft operations in the U.S., the Secretary has determined, 
consistent with Article 8, and the authority under 49 U.S.C. 41703, as 
implemented in 14 CFR part 375, that it is appropriate to allow these 
operations to occur provided that individuals complete the process set 
forth in 14 CFR part 48 and comply with the statutory requirements for 
conducting model aircraft operations in Public Law 112-95, section 336 
(Feb. 14, 2012). For these individuals, recognizing that most ICAO 
member states have not imposed a registration or airworthiness 
requirement for these small unmanned aircraft, we will recognize these 
aircraft as ``other foreign civil aircraft'' as defined in 14 CFR 
375.11. Consistent with the Secretary's authority in section 333 of 
Public Law 112-95, provided the aircraft are operated exclusively as 
model aircraft in accordance with section 336 of Public Law 112-95, an 
airworthiness certificate will not be required. Section 375.38 will 
require individuals to comply with Sec.  48.30 and pay a $5 fee, 
complete the application and the registration process in Sec. Sec.  
48.100(b) and (c), 48.105, and 48.115; mark the aircraft in accordance 
with the provisions in Sec. Sec.  48.200 and 48.205, and comply with 
the statutory model aircraft requirements in section 336 of Public Law 
112-95. The agency will consider the certificate that is issued to be a 
recognition of ownership rather than a certificate of U.S. aircraft 
registration. These conditions are consistent with and impose no 
greater burden than the requirements imposed on U.S. citizens 
conducting model aircraft operations in the U.S.
2. Commercial Activity Conducted by Non-U.S. Citizens
    A corporation that is not a citizen of the United States may 
register an aircraft in the United States when the corporation is 
organized and doing business under the laws of the United States or a 
State, and the aircraft is based and primarily used in the United 
States. 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(1)(C). This statutory limitation exists in 
order to prevent the United States registry from ``becoming an 
international registry'' and ``United States aircraft registration from 
becoming a so-called `flag of convenience.' '' See 44 FR 61937, 61937-
61938 (October 29, 1979).
    Part 47 implements the requirement to define ``based and primarily 
used in the United States.'' Under part 47, aircraft are deemed to be 
``based and primarily used in the United States'' if one of the 
following conditions is satisfied: (1) The aircraft is used exclusively 
in the United States during the period of registration; or (2) the 
aircraft flight hours accumulated within the United States amount to at 
least 60 percent of the total flight hours of the aircraft, measured 
over six month intervals. Sec.  47.9. Because operations by small 
unmanned aircraft registered in accordance with part 48 are limited to 
operations within the United States, it is not necessary to further 
define ``based and primarily used in the United States'' as provided in 
part 47.
    With respect to foreign-owned or controlled entities or individuals 
who want to conduct non-recreational UAS operations but who do not 
satisfy the definition above and thus cannot register their aircraft in 
the United States under either 14 CFR part 47 or part 48, the 
Department and the FAA may consider allowing these operations to occur 
with additional authorization under the authority of 49 U.S.C. 41703, 
the provisions of 14 CFR part 375, and other safety authorizations as 
deemed necessary by the FAA. Comments are requested on what factors the 
FAA or the Department should consider in determining whether and when 
to grant such authorizations. The Department will address these 
authorizations in more detail in the sUAS Operation and Certification 
final rule, the final rule on sUAS registration, or other rulemaking as 
appropriate. For more information and guidance regarding authorities 
for non-U.S. citizens, please contact the Department's Foreign Air 
Carrier Licensing Division.
3. Minimum Age To Register
    Clarification/Request for Information: In the Clarification/Request 
for Information document, the agency sought comments on whether there 
should be a minimum age at which a person would be permitted to 
register a small unmanned aircraft. An individual commenter opposed a 
minimum age requirement, noting that a 10 year old can be safer than a 
30 year old. A few other individual commenters did, however, recommend 
a minimum age requirement to register and operate a UAS--one commenter 
recommended 21 years old (to purchase and operate a UAS), two 
commenters recommended 18 years old (to register a UAS), and one 
commenter recommended 16 years old (to register a UAS). Another 
individual commenter said there should be an age requirement to 
purchase UAS weighing more than 4 pounds. That commenter did not, 
however, suggest an age at which this requirement should be set. One 
commenter pointed to the existence of child protection laws and 
questioned how the FAA will protect privacy interests in the 
registration process.
    Task Force: Due to the anticipated use of a Web-based application 
process for part 48, the Task Force considered age-related limitations 
applicable to Web-based information collection. Consistent with the 
Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), 15 U.S.C. 6501-6505, 
the Task Force recommended a requirement that individuals be 13 years 
or older to register a UAS.
    IFR Requirement: In response to the comments from the 
Clarification/Request for Information, the agency notes that the 
comments did not provide justification for an age restriction for 
purposes of registration given that there is no minimum age for the 
operation of some sUAS and the agency proposed a minimum age of 17 for 
operation of sUAS used for commercial (non-hobby or non-recreational) 
purposes. Although one commenter proposed that the registration age 
should be linked to the weight of the aircraft, given that the 
registration process provided by this final rule is exclusively Web-
based, protections for minor registrants must control. The FAA agrees 
with the Task Force recommendation to limit Web-based small unmanned 
aircraft registration to persons age 13 and older and has included this 
requirement in this IFR.

[[Page 78614]]

    As a matter of policy (OMB Guidance for Implementing the Privacy 
Provisions of the E-Government Act of 2002), all Web sites and online 
services operated by the federal government and contractors operating 
on behalf of federal agencies must comply with the standards set forth 
in the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (16 CFR part 312). 
COPPA applies to Web site operators (including mobile apps) directed to 
children under 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information 
from children. It also applies to operators of general audience Web 
sites or online services with actual knowledge that they are 
collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children 
under 13. COPPA also applies to Web sites or online services that have 
actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information directly 
from users of another Web site or online service directed to children. 
Operators who are covered by COPPA must:
    1. Post a clear and comprehensive online privacy policy describing 
their information practices for personal information collected online 
from children;
    2. Provide direct notice to parents and obtain verifiable parental 
consent, with limited exceptions, before collecting personal 
information online from children;
    3. Give parents the choice of consenting to the operator's 
collection and internal use of a child's information, but prohibiting 
the operator from disclosing that information to third parties (unless 
disclosure is integral to the site or service, in which case, this must 
be made clear to parents);
    4. Provide parents access to their child's personal information to 
review and/or have the information deleted;
    5. Give parents the opportunity to prevent further use or online 
collection of a child's personal information;
    6. Maintain the confidentiality, security, and integrity of 
information they collect from children, including by taking reasonable 
steps to release such information only to parties capable of 
maintaining its confidentiality and security; and
    7. Retain personal information collected online from a child for 
only as long as is necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was 
collected and delete the information using reasonable measures to 
protect against its unauthorized access or use.
    The Registry, through the small unmanned aircraft registration Web 
site, is expected to gather personal information as defined by COPPA, 
such as first and last name, a physical or mailing address and online 
contact information. In light of these requirements, the registration 
Web site will require a responsible person age 13 or over to complete 
the registration application, providing their name in place of the 
child's name when the aircraft owner is a child under 13, as required 
by Sec.  48.15.
    All aircraft owners who are age 13 and older will be required to 
register in their name as the aircraft owner. The agency does not 
expect a person who turns 13 after the date on which the Certificate of 
Aircraft Registration is issued but before renewal is required, to 
reregister their small unmanned aircraft in their own name. The agency 
expects this change to take place at the time of registration renewal. 
Until such time, the responsible person can continue to meet the 
obligations of the owner for purposes of device identification.
    We recognize that in order to register in the system, the payment 
of the fee requires the use of a credit, debit, gift, or prepaid card 
using the Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, Discover, or Diners 
Club network. For owners who are age 13 and older who do not have 
access to one of these payment methods, a parent, guardian, or 
responsible person could submit payment on their behalf using one of 
these options.

E. Registration Required Prior to Operation

1. Registration Prior to Operation
    Clarification/Request for Information: The FAA requested comments 
on the point at which registration should occur (e.g., point-of-sale or 
prior to operation). Several trade associations whose members use UAS 
(News Media Coalition, Air Medical Operators Association, Aerospace 
Industries Association (AIA), and Property Drone Consortium), 
Modovolate Aviation, LLC, and Morris P. Hebert, Inc. supported point-
of-sale registration. A number of individuals stated that registration 
at point of sale was the only approach that would ensure that 
registration would occur at least for ready-to-fly UASs. These 
commenters stated that many operators would not register later. Some of 
these commenters, however, questioned whether point-of-sale 
registration could be applied to home-built or traded UASs. A few 
commenters compared the registration process to that which occurs for 
car and gun sales. Some commenters stated that an unlock process should 
be included so that the UAS could not be used until registration was 
complete. Another suggested registering the beacon, not the UAS. 
Commenters stated that point-of-sale registration, with the seller 
handling the information, would reduce the burden on buyers. Some 
individuals stated that purchasers should have to demonstrate that they 
were familiar with the rules for operation.
    Chronicled, Inc. stated that a registration system should be 
designed to integrate all POS systems that currently exist; this 
commenter assumed that each buyer would have an email address and 
government ID number that could be used to set up a registration 
account by downloading a mobile app. This company also assumed that the 
product would include a public key infrastructure (PKI) chip. The Real 
Time Technology Group stated that vendors could easily verify IDs 
presented by checking public records, and government watch lists.
    The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), the Colorado 
Agricultural Aviation Association, and an individual stated that the 
burden on vendors would be no greater than submitting credit card 
charges. NAAA recommended that initial registration occur at the 
manufacturers, with all subsequent sales involving a transfer of 
ownership. A law firm and individual commenters generally supported 
having the vendor submit the information because, they argued, this 
would ensure that the registration occurred. One suggested that the 
vendor submit a temporary registration with the purchaser required to 
submit a final version.
    Most commenters that addressed this issue expressed either 
opposition to the approach or concerns about the viability of point-of-
sale registration for some sales. AT&T Services, Inc. questioned the 
FAA's legal authority to impose a registration requirement at the 
point-of-sale, given that the statutory authority underlying the UAS 
registration requirement, as well as its implementing regulation, 
applies to persons who ``operate'' aircraft. In this case, AT&T 
asserted, it is the owner of the UAS who ``operates'' it, and should 
therefore be responsible for registering it.
    The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) stated that point-
of-sale registration would require the FAA to build new information 
technology systems to collect the information and retail outlets would 
have to build and test systems to link to the FAA. RILA stated that 
this was unlikely to happen in the short timeframe the FAA is 
proposing. RILA further stated that the practical realities of 
implementing a

[[Page 78615]]

point-of-sale registration system in time for this holiday season would 
impose heavy and costly administrative burdens on the FAA and retailers 
while at the same time raising serious consumer privacy concerns.
    The National Retail Federation (NRF) stated that many retail point-
of-sale systems are not configured to capture individual product 
identifying information. From a product's UPC code, many point-of-sale 
systems will identify the type of item, but cannot be configured to 
automatically capture information identifying each unique instance of 
an item type, such as a serial number. NRF stated that point-of-sale 
registration would require retailers to build a manual intervention 
process into their point-of-sale systems; cashiers would have to 
manually capture the serial number of the UAS and other required 
registration information. The commenter said this process would require 
training sales personnel, which imposes labor costs.
    RILA and NRF stated that collecting personal information in a 
checkout line was problematic and presented data safety issues. RILA 
stated that it would cause significant delays in checking out for both 
UAS buyers and other customers. For both store and online sales, RILA 
stated that the retailer would have to explain the requirements to the 
customers because many would not be aware of the FAA rule. RILA also 
stated that point-of-sale registration would not capture the needed 
information for those UAS that are bought as gifts. Finally, RILA 
stated that a point-of-sale requirement would regulate sales rather 
than operations and questioned whether the FAA has the authority to 
regulate sales.
    A number of individual commenters stated the point of sale would 
not work for people who build their own models from purchased parts or 
3D-generated parts, for many online sales, and for purchases from 
foreign Web sites. One commenter stated that he bought parts without 
necessarily knowing exactly what kind of model he will build. Another 
commenter stated that some kits are sold by individuals operating small 
businesses from their homes. Several individuals suggested that the FAA 
provide identification numbers to purchasers so that the seller would 
only need to record the numbers. Other commenters recommended that AMA 
membership or proof of registration with the FAA be required at point 
of sale.
    RILA, Horizon Hobby, and many individual commenters supported 
registration prior to operation. They stated that this approach would 
make it possible to capture the many UAS that are purchased as gifts, 
from foreign Web sites, or sold privately and those that are 
constructed by the operator. A number of commenters suggested that this 
would allow the operator to affix the registration number on the UAS. 
Other commenters stated that they own multiple aircraft and asked that 
the operator, rather than the aircraft, be registered. A few 
individuals stated that the registration process could be handled when 
the owner filed the warranty card. One commenter stated that a prior to 
operation placement of name and contact information in the aircraft 
would be a more efficient means of ensuring the identity of the person 
piloting the aircraft is tied to the aircraft. Another individual 
stated that in some cases models are started by one person, passed on 
to others, and perhaps never finished or flown; including such models 
would serve no purpose.
    The NRF stated UAS should be manufactured so that they can only be 
turned on and operated after the consumer registers the UAS and 
receives and applies an activation code. A manufacturer, Drone House 
Joint Stock Company, stated that this approach is its model for 
registration.
    Another individual questioned how the FAA has authority to require 
registration of UAS that are ``on the ground, not being flown, with the 
drone being turned off, in a box, and inside a building.'' This 
commenter asserted that, consistent with 14 CFR parts 1, 47, and 91 and 
49 U.S.C. 44101(a), the FAA only has jurisdiction over a UAS that is in 
operation.
    Task Force: The Task Force approached its discussions of the 
registration process with two goals in mind--to ensure accountability 
by creating a traceable link between aircraft and owner, and to 
encourage the maximum levels of regulatory compliance by making the 
registration process as simple as possible. To achieve the twin goals 
of accountability and compliance, the Task Force recommended the FAA 
institute a simple, owner-based registration system in which the FAA 
issues a single registration number to each registrant which covers all 
unmanned aircraft owned by that registrant.
    The Task Force also addressed the question of registration process 
design. Because 49 U.S.C. 44101(a) stipulates that a person may only 
operate an aircraft when it is registered with the FAA, the majority of 
Task Force members believed the FAA cannot require registration of 
unmanned aircraft at the point-of-sale. Some members of the Task Force 
expressed the opinion that maximum compliance can best be achieved with 
point-of-sale registration and those members therefore encouraged the 
FAA to include it as one of several options for registration. Several 
other members of the Task Force pointed out that, because the FAA's 
authority extends only to operation of aircraft, point-of-sale 
registration cannot be mandated.
    IFR Requirement: The FAA agrees with the Task Force recommendation 
and comments stating that registration should be required prior to 
operation of the small unmanned aircraft, as opposed to at the point of 
sale. As referenced by the Task Force report, 49 U.S.C. 44101(a) 
stipulates that a person may only operate an aircraft once it is 
registered with the FAA.
    Registration prior to operation as opposed to point-of-sale 
registration also avoids a number of logistical considerations 
associated with consumer product purchases identified by commenters, 
such as distinguishing the purchaser from the ultimate owner, and the 
burden placed on retailers when such a transaction occurs at a cash 
register in a store.
    The agency emphasizes, however, that conformance to the statutory 
requirement to register prior to operation does not foreclose the 
opportunity for the development of a point-of-sale web-based 
application for registration that relieves the associated burdens 
identified by commenters. The agency encourages innovation in point-of-
sale registration as it may provide the agency with a means by which to 
receive information regarding small unmanned aircraft in a seamless 
fashion, and hopes to work with retailers and manufacturers in the 
future to make the process as simple as possible.
    In response to commenters' concern about whether a small unmanned 
aircraft that is not used in the NAS (i.e. indoors) would be 
inadvertently registered via point-of-sale registration, the agency 
confirms that only those small unmanned aircraft that are operated 
outdoors must register. Further, there is no obligation to register a 
small unmanned aircraft that will not be operated outdoors.
2. Registration of Each Aircraft
    Clarification/Request for Information: Most commenters favored a 
requirement to register the owner \36\ of the UAS

[[Page 78616]]

instead of a requirement to register the UAS itself. Under this 
registration scheme, each owner would receive a single, unique 
registration number that would cover every UAS that person owns. Many 
commenters pointed out that this is how the AMA handles registration. 
Commenters asserted that a requirement to register each individual UAS 
is impractical and overly burdensome, particularly in light of the fact 
that most recreational users own multiple (often many) UAS. Commenters 
also pointed out that many UAS owners, especially those who build their 
own aircraft, regularly replace parts, as well as trade and sell their 
aircraft with other UAS owners. Those commenters asserted that a 
requirement to register the owner instead of the aircraft would 
alleviate the burdens associated with re-registering an aircraft each 
time such an event occurs. Commenters also claimed that registration of 
the owner of a UAS is all that is necessary to satisfy the DOT and FAA 
goals of traceability and accountability.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \36\ Some commenters said the registration requirement should 
apply to the ``owner'' while other commenters said it should apply 
to the ``pilot'' or ``operator.'' Because these commenters were 
largely members of the model aircraft community, and therefore both 
the owners and operators of their aircraft, this seems to be a 
distinction without a difference.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EPIC stated that a UAS registration requirement is an ``absolutely 
essential'' requirement to establish accountability for use of 
``autonomous surveillance devices'' in the United States. EPIC further 
stated, however, that to ensure that the registry fosters 
accountability and responsibility among UAS operators, the registry 
must include provisions addressing privacy issues ``to ensure a 
comprehensive baseline set of protections that facilitate the safe 
integration of drones.''
    Union Pacific Railroad similarly stated support for ``reasonable 
measures by the FAA to encourage accountability and responsibility 
among all UAS operators, including recreational users of sUAS.''
    A number of commenters recommended that the FAA implement a 
licensing system like the FCC uses to register amateur radio operators. 
Commenters drew comparisons between amateur radio operators, most of 
whom own many different pieces of radio equipment, and hobby aircraft 
modelers, many of whom own many different model aircraft. Commenters 
explained that under the FCC licensing system the operator, not the 
equipment, is licensed for non-commercial operations after passing a 
safety test. Commenters asserted that registration alone does not 
guarantee a model aircraft operator understands the rules of safety for 
operating in the NAS, so a licensing system with a testing component 
may be the best way to ensure safe operations in the NAS. One commenter 
acknowledged that licensing model aircraft operators would require a 
change in the law, but stated his belief that there is wide support for 
this in both Congress and the modeling community.
    One commenter recommended that individuals be required to pass a 
background check before getting a license for UAS operations. Other 
commenters said the registration system should be more like the systems 
to obtain a license to hunt or to operate a boat, and less like firearm 
registration.
    In contrast to those commenters who advocated for an owner-based 
registration system, Delair-Tech stated that each entry in the 
registration database ``should be attached to exactly one UAV.'' 
Aviation Management said the FAA should consider independent 
registration for a UAS operator in addition to registration of the 
unmanned aircraft and all of its support systems, including the ground 
control station.
    The National Air Transportation Association expressed its support 
of the registration requirement, but acknowledged the ability to track 
an unsafe or noncompliant UAS back to the operator is limited to 
incidents in which the UAS is disabled, but not too damaged to obtain 
registration information. Several commenters, including the Competitive 
Enterprise Institute, questioned the usefulness of a registration 
number for identification purposes asserting a registration number 
would be impossible to read during flight, would only be useful after 
an incident has occurred and only if the UAS is recovered. Some 
commenters said affixing the name and contact information of the owner 
to or in the aircraft will serve the same purpose with much less 
expense. Other commenters said because it will be very easy for an 
individual to ignore the registration requirement, the small benefit of 
registration will be greatly outweighed by the burden placed on the 
model aircraft industry and the cost of implementing and maintaining 
the system.
    NAAA and CoAA said registration will help track down who is 
responsible after an accident, but noted that FAA will not be able to 
enforce illegal and unsafe operations without requiring UAS to be 
equipped with an ADS-B like system through which to trace them.
    Task Force: The Task Force recommended an owner-based registration 
system to achieve the goals of accountability and compliance. Under the 
Task Force scheme, the FAA would issue a single registration number to 
each registrant that would be used to identify all unmanned aircraft 
owned and operated by that registrant.
    IFR Requirement: The FAA sought to integrate the Task Force 
recommendation and comments regarding an owner registration approach 
while also considering the best public policy with respect to small 
unmanned aircraft registration. As addressed in the preamble discussion 
``Registration Process,'' the registration system will differentiate 
between small unmanned aircraft intended to be used exclusively as 
model aircraft and small unmanned aircraft intended to be used as other 
than model aircraft in that different information will be collected for 
each population.
    Small unmanned aircraft intended to be used exclusively as model 
aircraft will be registered with a single Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration issued to the aircraft owner. As with all other small 
unmanned aircraft, registration must be completed prior to operation of 
a small unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft. Owners of 
small unmanned aircraft intended to be used as model aircraft must 
complete the registration application process by submitting basic 
contact information, such as name, address, and email address. The 
owner will receive a Certificate of Aircraft Registration with a single 
registration number that constitutes the registration for each of this 
particular owner's aircraft. There would be no limit to the number of 
small unmanned aircraft registered under the owner's registration. This 
approach serves the purpose of the statutory aircraft registration 
requirement because each small unmanned aircraft must bear the owner's 
registration number, thus allowing for the aircraft and its owner to be 
identified.
    The agency notes that, once an aircraft is no longer exclusively 
used as a model aircraft, then the owner must complete a new 
registration application in accordance with the requirements for 
aircraft used as other than model aircraft.
    The owner of a small unmanned aircraft intended to be used as other 
than a model aircraft must complete the registration application by 
providing aircraft-specific information in addition to basic contact 
information. The owner will receive a Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration with a registration number for each individual aircraft 
registered.
    The agency determined that this registration approach is necessary 
for entities intending to use small

[[Page 78617]]

unmanned aircraft as other than model aircraft because, based on the 
agency's experience with exemptions issued under section 333 of Public 
Law 112-95, these entities are expected to conduct a higher volume of 
operations, utilize multiple aircraft and at times conduct multiple 
simultaneous operations across the country, which introduces more risk 
into the NAS. In contrast, a small unmanned aircraft owner who operates 
small unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft is expected to 
use only one of his or her aircraft at a time and to do so on a less 
frequent basis than a person conducting operations with small unmanned 
aircraft intended to be used as other than as a model aircraft.
    Components of the owner registration approach will still be 
available for small unmanned aircraft used as other than model aircraft 
in that the agency will utilize an owner profile for the registration 
Web site under which multiple aircraft can be registered. Owners will 
have a single profile that contains all of their aircraft, and although 
they may register multiple aircraft under that profile, each aircraft 
must have a unique number that exists under that profile. The FAA notes 
that persons using small unmanned aircraft other than as model aircraft 
will not be able to use the part 48 registration system until March 31, 
2016.
    The FAA notes that commenters comparing the registration 
requirement to licensure misconstrue the purpose of registration. While 
registration allows the agency an opportunity to educate sUAS 
operators, the primary purpose of registration is to identify the 
aircraft owner.

F. Registration Process

1. Design of Registration System
    sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM: The sUAS Operation and 
Certification NPRM requested comments on the registration process. Both 
supporters and opponents of the proposed registration provision said 
FAA should take steps to ease the registration process. The Property 
Drone Consortium stated that a streamlined registration process was 
necessary to ensure growth in the UAS industry. Amazon, Association of 
Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the American Farm Bureau 
Federation, and several others urged FAA to allow online registration 
of aircraft. Similarly, Small UAV Coalition and AUVSI, among other 
commenters, urged FAA to establish an electronic UAS registration 
database.
    Clarification/Request for Information: In the Clarification/Request 
for Information, the Administrator and the Secretary requested 
information related to the logistics of the small unmanned aircraft 
registration process. Specifically, the FAA and DOT requested comments 
on how the registration process should be designed to minimize burdens 
and best protect innovation and encourage growth in the UAS industry. 
The FAA and DOT also requested comments on whether registration should 
be electronic or web-based, and whether there were existing tools that 
could support an electronic registration process.
    In response to issues raised in the October 22, 2015 Clarification/
Request for Information, commenters provided numerous suggestions for 
designing the registration process to minimize burdens and best protect 
innovation and encourage growth in the UAS industry. Suggestions 
included: Registering operators instead of individual aircraft; 
providing a variety of ways to register, including online, via 
telephone, through a mobile application, or at various locations, such 
as post offices or retail outlets; implementing a licensure procedure 
similar to that required by FCC for ham radio operators; allowing 
aircraft that already comply with AMA or FCC labeling practices to meet 
the labeling requirements to avoid conflicting requirements; and 
permitting operation of UAS upon submission of registration information 
rather than instituting a waiting period. Some commenters recommend 
that small unmanned aircraft manufacturers provide information to the 
FAA or assist owners in providing information to the FAA.
    A law firm recommended the agency use the same registration system 
it uses for registering manned aircraft. The commenter noted the 
current registration system requires the following information: A 
notarized statement by the builder, manufacturer, or applicant for 
registration describing the UAS in detail, evidence of ownership, and 
an Aircraft Registration Application (FAA AC Form 8050-1), which 
identifies UAS and the owner. This commenter suggested manufacturers 
provide the information regarding the UAS and its capabilities, which 
would reduce burdens on retailers and consumers and result in a high 
degree of compliance.
    Comments submitted as part of the AMA form letter campaign stated 
that the registration process should be as automated as possible and 
minimally intrusive. Those commenters stated that the system of 
aircraft identification used by AMA members (i.e., where members place 
their names and addresses or AMA numbers on their model aircraft) 
should be acceptable for AMA members as an alternative means of 
complying with the registration requirement. The Experimental Aircraft 
Association agreed that the identification used by AMA members could be 
allowed to meet the UAS registration requirements, which would 
alleviate some of the burden on the FAA while maintaining the 
accountability that DOT seeks through registration. However, EAA 
expressed doubts about the practicality of requiring registration of 
millions of UAS and model aircraft currently in use in the United 
States and feared the magnitude of the system would overshadow other 
safety measures.
    An individual stated the main problem registration is intended to 
solve is the unsafe use of UAS by inexperienced or uninformed 
operators; therefore, the commenter recommended registrants be required 
to pass a test as part of the registration process.
    The National Agricultural Aviation Association and the Colorado 
Agricultural Aviation Association stated FAA should focus on its 
aviation safety mission, including focusing on the safety of manned 
aircraft even if that resulted in requiring registration and more 
safety equipment for unmanned aircraft. These commenters said requiring 
items, such as indestructible data plate, ADS-B, and visible strobes, 
in addition to registration would encourage growth of the industry 
through accident prevention. In contrast, several individual commenters 
contended any registration requirement will stifle innovation and 
discourage growth.
    Several individual commenters questioned whether the agency can 
handle the registration of millions of recreational UAS. One commenter 
noted that the registration database could become overloaded and 
unmanageable if every person registers every model aircraft they 
purchase or receive--many of which will not last past a single flight--
but then fail to notify the FAA when a model is lost, destroyed, or 
sold. Also pointing to the short life span of most small UAS, another 
commenter similarly said the registration system will become 
overwhelmed if recreational users are required to register and re-
register each model aircraft they obtain. Another commenter said that 
requiring UAS owners to renew their registration will ``complicate 
everything'' and lead to people involuntarily breaking the law when 
they forget to re-register their UAS.

[[Page 78618]]

    Task Force: The Task Force broadly agreed that in order to promote 
greater acceptance of the registration requirement, the registration 
process should be as quick and easy as possible. The Task Force 
encouraged the FAA to consider implementing additional methods and 
strategies to maximize compliance with the registration requirement but 
without adding cumbersome steps into the process.
    IFR Requirement: As has been noted previously, the FAA has 
developed and, by this rule, is creating an alternative, web-based 
registration system to register small unmanned aircraft prior to their 
operation. This web-based registration system is responsive to comments 
seeking an automated approach that is capable of managing the expected 
volume of registration. The agency expects that the web-based 
registration system will facilitate compliance with the aircraft 
registration requirement because of its accessibility and ease of use. 
Additionally, an electronic registration system complies fully with the 
Government Paperwork Elimination Act, Public Law 105-277, which 
requires that when practicable, federal agencies use electronic forms, 
filing, and signatures to conduct official business with the public.
    As has been noted, the agency considered a point-of-sale 
registration approach, but ultimately determined that it would be not 
be feasible for manufacturers, retailers, and the agency to implement 
at this time. As discussed earlier in this preamble, the agency is 
evaluating how to address the burdens associated with point-of-sale 
registration identified by commenters.
2. Web-Based Registration Application
    The FAA received many comments regarding whether or not the agency 
should create an online registration system to register UAS or their 
operators. The vast majority of commenters were supportive of the use 
of an electronic or web-based registration system to collect 
registration information. However, commenters articulated significant 
differences in how they preferred the system be established, 
implemented, and enforced. Several commenters said that web-based 
registration would be the least intrusive and burdensome method of 
registration. These commenters also suggested that an online system may 
be the cheapest way to register individuals, reducing paperwork and 
processing time.
    Clarification/Request for Information: In responding to the 
Clarification/Request for Information, multiple commenters, including 
Horizon Hobby LLC, recommended that FAA create a registration platform 
that would be accessible from anywhere and any web-based device, 
including mobile devices. As stated by commenters, this platform could 
then be accessed repeatedly by individuals, allowing them to update 
registration information as their device specifications change. 
Commenters said that this type of online system would allow individuals 
to add new small unmanned aircraft to the registry easily and in a 
minimally burdensome fashion.
    ATA stated that an electronic registration system would 
dramatically shorten the registration process and make it more 
manageable for the FAA. ATA also noted that any cost associated with 
updating the FAA's system is likely to be fairly minimal and could be 
offset by charging a small registration fee.
    Other commenters suggested that web-based registrations be 
integrated into online points of sale to ensure that those devices 
purchased from kits are registered without placing an outside burden on 
operators. Commenters said that this registration would be a part of 
the retailer's sale process and would be a requirement of purchase; 
however, registration and approval would be instantaneous. These 
commenters, including Aviation Management Associates, indicated that 
this type of online registration could also include educational 
material and a quiz that must be passed as a condition of registration. 
According to the commenters, the educational material and quiz could 
serve as a mechanism to ensure that operators understand basic aviation 
laws and safety guidelines.
    While most commenters were supportive of electronic or web-based 
registrations, some expressed concern with an entirely electronic 
system. Many commenters expressed concern for the registration needs of 
those without consistent internet access. They instead recommended a 
paper alternative, in conjunction with online registration, be 
implemented to ease the registration burden of some operators.
    Multiple commenters suggested that outside of new technologies, the 
agency could use existing electronic registration systems as a template 
from which to craft a specific FAA registration program. For example, a 
few commenters recommended using existing e-commerce registration 
templates as a model. One commenter suggested that FAA work with 
commercial retailers like DJI to use their current registration 
platforms as a basis for point of sale registration. Other commenters 
suggested that FAA implement the registration procedures of the AMA for 
all operators, or use the AMA system as a template upon which the FAA 
can develop an equivalent system.
    NetMoby and other commenters suggested that FAA leverage existing 
FAA and other Federal agencies' electronic registration systems to 
build a registration system unique to UASs. Examples provided by these 
commenters included creating a registration system similar to the one 
currently in place for FAA tail numbers, or developing a registration 
Web site with similar functionality to radio licensing sites. Skyward 
Inc, for example, recommended that FAA leverage its current FAA IT 
systems that it uses for other programs for use with UAS.
    Several commenters remarked that there are multiple available 
technologies that FAA could use to aid an electronic registration 
process. Some of these included QR codes and RFID technologies. 
Commenters stated that both could be used to register and track the 
flight paths of UAS in the NAS. They said an RFID can be placed on 
aircraft that can then be read by interested parties from long 
distances. However, these same commenters indicated that there are 
potential security concerns with using RFID technology as well. Along 
with these technologies, commenters asserted that there are several 
private software development companies in operation that could produce 
a sufficient web-based registration product for FAA to use and 
implement. Two individuals noted the cost to design, implement, and 
maintain a centralized registration system will be significant, without 
an increase the safety of the NAS. Another individual said the cost of 
the registration program will hurt small businesses by adding an 
external expense to their operations.
    Task Force: The Task Force also addressed the question of whether 
registration should be electronic or web-based, and what tools exist to 
support an electronic registration process. The Task Force believed the 
registration process should be web-based, and that the FAA should 
create an online registration system that allows for multiple entry 
points through an application programming interface (API). This would 
allow, for example, a sUAS manufacturer or trade organization to 
develop an application that communicates through an API by which it can 
register its customers or members by submitting registration 
information directly to the FAA database on their behalf. The 
registration information required and the certificate of registration 
received

[[Page 78619]]

would be the same regardless of what point of entry is used into the 
registration system. The online registration system should provide for 
an option for owners to edit and delete their registration information, 
as well as to view and print physical copies of their registration 
certificates through access to a password-protected web-based portal.
    IFR Requirement: In Sec.  48.30, the FAA sets out a process for 
streamlined registration of small unmanned aircraft. This streamlined 
process is exclusively web-based. The FAA agrees with commenters and 
the Task Force that a web-based system is much more functional than a 
paper system would be, and also agrees that registration compliance 
rates will increase dramatically when registration can be accomplished 
through a simple, web-based system. Additionally, the current FAA 
Registry would be unable to quickly process the dramatic increase in 
paper volume that the FAA would receive from small unmanned aircraft 
registration. With the implementation of the small unmanned aircraft 
registration process, small unmanned aircraft registration will be 
fully automated, allowing for the registration of small unmanned 
aircraft without delay. Therefore, a web-based system benefits both 
applicants and the FAA. The paper-based part 47 process will remain 
available for those applicants who are unable to avail themselves of 
the part 48 process.
    The web-based registration system itself will be simple, easy to 
use, and mobile friendly. To complete the registration process, the 
owner of a small unmanned aircraft will enter the information 
identified in Sec.  48.100 (identified within the registration system 
as data fields) and pay a fee through the web-based registration 
system. A Certificate of Aircraft Registration will be available to 
print within the registration system or sent to the registrant via 
email following the initial registration and subsequent renewals. The 
applicant will have 24 hours to correct registration information after 
the initial payment without having to pay a second time.
    Once registered, owners will be able to access the registration Web 
site to update the information provided to register the aircraft as 
well as cancel registration as circumstances require (e.g., aircraft 
destruction, transfer, sale, change in owner eligibility to register). 
Aircraft owners may also view and print physical copies of their 
registration certificate through access to this password-protected web-
based portal, but must only pay a fee for the initial registration and 
renewals. There is no fee for updating personal information or 
accessing the registration certificate. For the initial release the 
user can add an alternate email address which can be used to reset the 
account password and all functionality of the system could still be 
utilized if the user lost access to their primary email address. For 
future releases we will have the ability to change the primary email 
address on file and revalidate the new one.
    Canceling a registration would change the state of the registration 
in the database to ``cancelled'' or another state that is not 
associated with an active registration. Aircraft registration records 
are permanent records and would not be deleted or destroyed. Please 
refer to the NARA schedule for additional details
    With respect to Task Force and Federal Register comments regarding 
different technical aspects the database should contain, the agency 
expects to continuously evaluate the database and the web-based 
registration process and look for opportunities to further develop the 
technical functionality of both. The FAA's goal in utilizing the least 
burdensome approach is to encourage prompt compliance by removing 
barriers. As with other aspects of sUAS integration into the NAS, our 
approach to registration will be incremental. The Administrator may 
authorize expanded technical capabilities going forward, but the 
initial goal is to make this process as minimally burdensome as 
possible to encourage compliance with the registration requirement, and 
provide the FAA and law enforcement the ability to quickly connect 
individuals to their aircraft with the least amount of steps possible.
    With regard to comments addressing the use of RFI technology or use 
of small unmanned aircraft beacons to assist with registration and 
identification, the FAA believes that RFI and other technology could be 
cost prohibitive, and could add weight to smaller aircraft. The FAA 
believes that the same goal--identification of small unmanned aircraft 
and their owners--can be achieved through an online registration 
process with less expense and less technological investment.
3. Information Required
    sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM: The sUAS Operation and 
Certification NPRM requested comments on what information should be 
required for registration. A few commenters provided feedback as to 
whether small UAS owners should be required to provide additional 
information during the registration process so that UAS could be 
categorized. Amazon, American Farm Bureau Federation and an individual 
stated that small UAS owners should not be required to provide any 
additional information beyond what is currently required of manned 
aircraft. The University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of 
Aerospace Sciences recommended that FAA adopt a simplified information-
gathering process to include the following data: Manufacturer 
identification (if applicable); known performance and limitations; 
physical size, weight, and characteristics; and, if self-built, a list 
of major components similar to that provided by commercial 
manufacturers. The commenter stated that this minimal information would 
allow for future safety-related research by establishing base 
categories from which comparisons could be made. NOAA and Schertz 
Aerial Services, Inc. suggested that FAA impose similar requirements as 
those imposed on amateur-built aircraft. According to NOAA, UAS owners 
should be required, at a minimum, to describe the aircraft by class 
(UAS), size, color, number of motors/props/wings, serial number, make, 
and model. Predesa, LLC recommended that digital photos or video 
recordings of the aircraft, as well as written records of 
manufacturers' part numbers of supporting equipment used by the 
operator, can satisfy the need for additional information to accurately 
describe a non-standardized small UAS.
    Clarification/Request for Information: A majority of commenters 
stated that only basic information should be collected during the 
registration process because of commenters' concerns about data 
security. Several commenters suggested that commercial UAS operators 
should provide more in-depth information than recreational operators. 
The vast majority of commenters, including individuals and 
organizational stakeholders, stated that owner/business name, address, 
telephone number, email address, and description of the UAS should be 
collected during the registration process. Some commenters further 
broke down the UAS's description to include make, model, manufacturer's 
serial number, weight, range, performance capability, flight controller 
serial number and whether the UAS was purchased or home-built. Many 
commenters also suggested that registrants should upload a picture of 
the UAS. Several commenters suggested that date of sale/purchase, point 
of sale, date of operation, intended use and geographic location of 
primary use would also be helpful information.

[[Page 78620]]

AMA members also stated that their AMA member numbers should be 
collected.
    To provide further information about the aircraft owner, many 
commenters suggested that the operator's date of birth, driver's 
license, Social Security Number, and number of aircraft owned should be 
provided during the registration process. Other commenters specifically 
objected to providing their Social Security Numbers because of concerns 
about data security. A few individuals who identified as hobbyists 
stated that insurance information and professional license numbers 
should also be collected during registration. A small number of 
commenters suggested registrants should provide their passport numbers, 
credit card numbers, nationality, and proof of citizenship.
    EPIC stated that the FAA should limit the collection of registrant 
information to what is necessary to maintain the aircraft registry and 
UAS safety. In particular, EPIC stated that the FAA should not collect 
``highly restricted personal information,'' including ``an individual's 
photograph or image, social security number, medical or disability 
information.'' \37\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \37\ To support its position, EPIC cited to and quoted from 18 
U.S.C. 2725(4). Title 18 of the United States Code covers Crimes and 
Criminal Procedure. Section 2725 covers the definitions used in 
Chapter 123--Prohibition on Release and Use of Certain Personal 
Information from State Motor Vehicle Records.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EPIC also recommended that the FAA require disclosure of each UAS's 
technical and surveillance capabilities, including data collection and 
storage. EPIC asserted that UAS are ``surveillance platforms'' that are 
able to carry a multitude of different data-collection technologies, 
including high-definition cameras, geolocation devices, cellular radios 
and disruption equipment, sensitive microphones, thermal imaging 
devices, and LIDAR. EPIC further asserted that UAS owners should be 
required to make clear at registration the specific capabilities of any 
video or audio surveillance technologies the UAS is carrying. EPIC 
stated that the public should not be left to wonder what surveillance 
devices are enabled on a UAS flying above their heads. EPIC further 
stated that the registration framework the FAA is considering does not 
go far enough, and should include a requirement that a UAS broadcast 
its capabilities and its registration number during operation, to allow 
members of the public and law enforcement officials to easily identify 
the operator and responsible party.
    EPIC also suggested that the FAA consider collecting aggregate data 
to assist research into UAS flights and usage. EPIC clarified, however, 
that such research data should not include personal information.
    Task Force: To ensure accountability, the Task Force recommended 
the FAA require all registrants to provide their name and street 
address, with the option to provide an email address or telephone 
number. While the Task Force recognized that a registrant's email 
address and telephone number may be useful for the FAA to disseminate 
safety-related information to UAS owners, the Task Force nevertheless 
believed disclosure of such information should be optional.
    Because the Task Force recommended the FAA institute an owner-based 
registration system, it believed registrants should not be required to 
provide any vehicle information, such as serial number or make and 
model of the UAS, during the registration process. Registrants should, 
however, have the option to provide the aircraft's manufacturer serial 
number, so that the serial number can then be used to satisfy the 
marking requirement. Additionally, to ensure the broadest possible 
participation, this registration system should make no distinction for, 
or impose additional requirements upon, sUAS manufactured or purchased 
outside the United States.
    IFR Requirement: For small unmanned aircraft used exclusively as 
model aircraft, the FAA adopts the Task Force recommendation to provide 
only basic contact information (name, address, and email address) for 
the small unmanned aircraft owner. This basic contact information is 
appropriate for registration of small unmanned aircraft intended to be 
used exclusively as model aircraft because owners typically only 
operate one aircraft at a time, which limits the variables in terms of 
owner identification. Accordingly, the FAA is requiring an applicant's 
name, physical address, mailing address if the applicant does not 
receive mail at their physical address, and email address. An accurate 
mailing address is necessary because the FAA often relies on regular 
mail via the United States Postal Service to provide notice of 
administrative actions, serve enforcement documents and provide other 
information. Although email will reduce the agency's reliance on 
regular mail for certain purposes such as the provision of educational 
material, a mailing address is still required to support the agency's 
compliance and enforcement actions.
    At this time, the FAA will not be accepting manufacturer name, 
model name, and serial number from individuals registering small 
unmanned aircraft intended to be used exclusively as model aircraft. 
However, as discussed in the preamble discussion on registration 
marking, the Administrator will continue to evaluate whether serial 
number can serve the purpose of aircraft identification and in the 
future, may require use of serial number for aircraft marking purposes 
in place of an FAA-issued registration number. In that case, this 
information would be acquired at point of sale by a manufacturer.
    The agency considered comments pertaining to the use of a 
membership number issued by an aeromodeling club such as the AMA as the 
registration number for an individual. After considering the design of 
the web-based information system, which will automatically assign a 
registration number to each individual applying for registration, the 
FAA determined that use of an aeromodeling club registration number 
would add unnecessary complexity.
    For persons expecting to operate small unmanned aircraft as other 
than model aircraft, in addition to the same basic contact information 
required for model aircraft, registrants must provide aircraft-specific 
information. A manufacturer and model name, and serial number must be 
provided for each aircraft being registered. As previously noted, based 
on the agency's experience with exemptions issued under section 333 of 
Public Law 112-95, persons seeking to operate small unmanned aircraft 
other than as model aircraft are expected to conduct a higher volume of 
operations, utilize multiple aircraft and at times conduct multiple 
simultaneous operations across the country, which thereby introduces 
more risk into the NAS. Moreover, these entities may operate multiple 
identical small unmanned aircraft at one time in different locations, 
with different persons operating the owner's aircraft. Accordingly, the 
FAA has determined that aircraft data is necessary to identify aircraft 
used as other than model aircraft due to the range of variables with 
respect to the operations they conduct. The aircraft-specific data will 
also allow the agency to assess the demand of these small unmanned 
aircraft on the NAS and whether additional safety-related actions are 
necessary as the FAA works to integrate sUAS into the NAS.
    With respect to the Task Force's recommendation that the provision 
of an email address should be optional, the FAA generally agrees that 
personal information that is not necessary for law enforcement and FAA 
to identify an owner should not be a mandatory entry. However, in this 
instance, an email

[[Page 78621]]

address is necessary to create an account for a web-based registration 
system that includes email delivery of the Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration. Additionally, email allows for targeted delivery of 
educational other safety-related materials directly to small unmanned 
aircraft owners. Thus, the FAA has determined that an email address 
will be required for registration under part 48. However, individual's 
email addresses would not be released to the general public. For more 
information regarding the privacy protections afforded to this system 
and intended use of the data, please review the privacy impact 
assessment for this rulemaking, as well as the accompanying System of 
Records Notice (SORN), available for review in Docket No. DOT-OST-2015-
0235.
    Regarding other suggested information, such as date of birth, 
Social Security number, driver's license number, or specific 
information about components or capabilities of small unmanned aircraft 
being registered, the FAA believes the data identified in new part 48 
is sufficient for the purposes of this registry and is the minimum that 
would be necessary for connecting an individual to their aircraft.
4. Fee for Registration
    Currently, the FAA assesses a fee of $5 for a Certificate of 
Registration for each aircraft. See 14 CFR 47.17(a). The FAA has not 
updated this fee since it was initially established in 1966. See 31 FR 
4495 (Mar. 17, 1966).
    sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM: The sUAS Operation and 
Certification NPRM did not differentiate the process of registering a 
small unmanned aircraft from that of a manned aircraft and thus did not 
directly address fees. Under that proposed rule, an applicant 
registering a small unmanned aircraft would pay the same $5 fee as an 
applicant seeking a Certificate of Registration for a manned aircraft.
    Three commenters responded to the issues related to fees for 
aircraft registration. One individual recommended FAA require all 
``amateur enthusiasts'' to pay a fee to use the NAS. Another individual 
argued that the fees associated with any licensing, required yearly 
maintenance, and registry should be kept affordable for the small 
business operator.
    Clarification/Request for Information: Commenters also responded to 
the issue of a registration fee and how the fee should be collected 
based on questions posed in the Clarification/Request for Information. 
Of the commenters that supported a registration fee, the majority 
stated that the fee should be nominal and suggested between $1 and $40. 
Other commenters suggested fees as high as $250 for hobbyists and 
$1,000 for commercial users. Several commenters stated that the amount 
of registration fee should be based upon the value of the UAS e.g., a 
more expensive UAS would necessitate a higher registration fee. The 
Minnesota Department of Transportation stated that its department 
charges registration fees commensurate with the base price of the 
aircraft. This commenter explained that it charges $100 for 
registration for UASs valued less than $500,000. Other commenters 
proposed that only commercial operators should pay a registration fee. 
Several AMA members stated that registration should be free for AMA 
members. Many commenters stressed that the fee should only be used for 
maintenance of the Web site, education, and enforcement actions.
    Many commenters said registration should be free. A number of 
commenters participating in a form letter campaign stated that a 
registration fee ``would place an unfair burden on those who may barely 
be able to afford to purchase model aircraft in the first place and may 
place barriers to continued education and technological advancement.''
    A large number of commenters were concerned that registration fees 
for each individual UAS would be unduly burdensome because many 
hobbyists own several UASs and the cumulative cost of registration 
would be prohibitively expensive. As an alternative, many commenters 
suggested that the FAA should charge one registration fee per operator 
and allow the operator to register multiple UASs.
    The vast majority of commenters objected to the imposition of any 
registration fee. Many commenters expressed concern that imposition of 
a fee would only serve to increase the size of the Federal Government 
and not contribute in any way to the safe operation of UASs. Commenters 
stated that a fee will deter registration and place an unnecessary 
financial burden on hobbyists. Several commenters suggested that 
instead of charging a registration fee, the FAA should collect fines 
from operators who fail to register.
    The majority of commenters suggested that if registration occurs at 
point of sale, the cost of registration should be collected in the same 
manner as a sales tax. Other commenters suggested that registration 
fees should be collected by the retailer or built in to the purchase 
price. Retail Industry Leaders Association and National Retail 
Federation expressed opposition to point of sale registration and 
collection of registration fees by retailers. They cited concern about 
collecting personal information from customers in a checkout line and 
the complexity of refunding the registration fee if the UAS is returned 
by the customer. Commenters also expressed concerns that foreign 
vendors would not comply with registration requirements and consumers 
would be adversely impacted.
    Many commenters commented generally on the collection of a 
registration fee and expressed that UAS operators should be able to pay 
the registration fee online. Commenters specifically identified support 
for online payments via PayPal, Amazon payments, and Bitcoin. 
Commenters also stated that mailing in checks or money orders should 
also be supported.
    Skyward, Inc. and individual commenters said the system must have 
safeguards against false registrations, unauthorized ownership 
transfers, and other malicious activity.
    Task Force: The Task Force believed the FAA should not impose a 
registration fee so as to encourage the highest level of compliance 
with the registration requirement. In the event that the FAA must 
charge a fee, the Task Force suggested a fee of 1/10th of one cent 
($0.001).
    IFR Requirement and Responses to Comments/Recommendations: Although 
the Task Force and some commenters recommended no fee for small 
unmanned aircraft registration for varying reasons, the FAA is required 
by statute to charge a fee for registration services. Section 45305 of 
title 49 U.S.C. directs the FAA to establish and collect fees for 
aircraft registration and airman certification activities to recover 
the cost of providing those services. Accordingly, the revenue stream 
generated by the fees collected under this IFR support the development, 
maintenance and operation of the Registry. The agency notes that 
section 45305 also directs the FAA to adjust these fees when the 
Administrator determines that the cost of the service has changed.
    Given that the registration process established under part 48 
differentiates between registration of small unmanned aircraft used 
exclusively as model aircraft and registration of small unmanned 
aircraft used as other than model aircraft, registration fees also 
differ between the two populations.
    An individual owner registering small unmanned aircraft operated 
exclusively as model aircraft must pay a single fee of $5 for the 
issuance of a Certificate of

[[Page 78622]]

Aircraft Registration and registration number and an additional $5 fee 
every three years for renewal of the registration. As previously noted, 
for owners of small unmanned aircraft used exclusively as model 
aircraft, this registration constitutes registration for all small 
unmanned aircraft of a single owner, provided those aircraft are all 
used exclusively as model aircraft. Thus, for this population, part 48 
provides cost reduction as compared to part 47, which requires aircraft 
owners to submit a separate application and $5 fee for each aircraft 
the owner would like to register.
    The FAA will require persons owning small unmanned aircraft used as 
other than model aircraft (e.g., for a commercial purpose) to pay a fee 
of $5 to register each aircraft in accordance with part 48, and a $5 
fee every three years for renewal of each aircraft registration. The 
fees for small unmanned aircraft registration and renewal for this 
population is the same as that currently required by part 47.
    This fee structure is in line with the recommendations from 
commenters who believed that the FAA should charge one fee for 
individuals who own small unmanned aircraft for hobby or recreational 
purposes. As sought by commenters, the registration requirement and fee 
structure for small unmanned aircraft used exclusively as model 
aircraft alleviates the need for these owners to complete frequent, 
multiple registration applications and submit a new fee each time they 
build or rebuild an aircraft or change out parts.
    The fee for small unmanned aircraft registration must be submitted 
through the web-based registration application process. The 
registration system will permit the use of any credit, debit, gift or 
prepaid card using the Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, 
Discover, or Diners Club network. If none of these methods of payment 
are available to the small unmanned aircraft owner, that owner may 
register the aircraft using the existing paper-based system under 14 
CFR part 47, which allows payment by check or money order. Credit card 
payment is one of the attributes of the part 48 registration process 
that streamlines the registration process. Consistent with the 
requirements of 49 U.S.C. 45305, the fees are based on the estimated 
costs to develop and maintain the registry under 14 CFR part 48. The 
FAA will adjust these fees based on the actual costs of the system.
    Regarding the Minnesota Department of Transportation's 
recommendation for a fee structure based on the value of the small 
unmanned aircraft, FAA's statutory authority for charging a fee for the 
registration of a small unmanned aircraft relates to the amount it 
costs for the FAA to maintain the registry, and not the value of an 
unmanned aircraft.
    In response to comments stating that, in place of the registration 
fee, the FAA should collect fines for failure to comply with 
registration requirements, the FAA clarifies that such a fine would 
constitute a civil penalty. Civil penalties for failure to register are 
discussed in the Enforcement section of this preamble. In addition to 
civil penalties, however, the law requires the FAA to collect a fee for 
registration of aircraft. 49 U.S.C. 45305. Congress requires this fee 
assessment in order for the agency to offset the cost of registration. 
The agency does not have authority to use civil penalties to offset its 
costs.
5. Transfer of Ownership
    Clarification/Request for Information: Commenters to the 
Clarification/Request for Information responded to the FAA's request 
for input on transfer of small unmanned aircraft.
    The Aerospace Industries Association stated that transfer of 
ownership would require that the new end-user registers his or her 
identification and the platform registration. This would allow a re-
check of intended use, changes/modifications to the platform, and the 
indication that the new user is aware of the rules of use. Delair-Tech 
stated that the seller should surrender ownership by deactivating the 
ground control software; the new owner would then register to 
reactivate it.
    A law firm stated that the existing FAA Aircraft Bill of Sale and 
Aircraft Registration Application would be equally applicable to UAS. 
The firm also said that the current regulatory framework contains an 
aircraft registration renewal requirement that would be beneficial for 
updating records regarding ownership of UAS. The firm went on to say 
that the regulatory obligation to collect and submit the registration 
information should be placed on the seller who would have an incentive 
to properly transfer the registration, or otherwise risk facing certain 
penalties or fines related to the illegal operation of the UAS by a 
future owner.
    Individual commenters stated that if the registration database is 
available online, the seller could easily record transfers of 
registration. A few commenters stated that the FAA should impose a fee 
for transfers. Individuals differed on whether the seller or buyer 
should be responsible for registering the transfer. A few commenters 
stated that the seller could remove the identification markings before 
sale. One suggested that the seller remove the beacon before sale. 
Another stated that the only registration should be the name and 
contact information placed on the UAS.
    Modovolate Aviation stated that recording transfers would be 
burdensome and unenforceable. An individual stated that UASs are often 
altered after purchase so that transferring a registration for the 
original UAS may not accurately reflect the UAS that is being resold. 
The commenter also stated that there is no way for the seller to ensure 
that the buyer will register.
    Task Force: Because the Task Force recommended an owner-based 
registration system, it believed that questions concerning how to deal 
with transfers of ownership are easily addressed by the registrants' 
marking methods.
    IFR Requirement: The registration requirements in part 48 do not 
differentiate between methods of aircraft transfer. The registration 
requirements are the same whether a person or other entity acquires an 
aircraft by gift, purchase or other method.
    The FAA agrees in part with the commenters who state that the 
seller should register or take other action upon a transfer and in part 
with the commenters who state that the buyer must register. Different 
actions will be necessary upon transfer or sale of a small unmanned 
aircraft, because the registration system differentiates between 
aircraft used exclusively as model aircraft and aircraft used other 
than as model aircraft and thus collects different information for each 
population.
    As discussed elsewhere in the preamble, individual owners of small 
unmanned aircraft used exclusively as model aircraft are not required 
to submit aircraft-specific information. Thus, there is no need to 
update the registration system upon a transfer or sale. The owner, 
however, should remove his or her unique identifier from the aircraft 
before transfer or sale. The buyer or recipient of a transfer must 
create a new registration prior to operation only if that buyer does 
not already have an owner registration number. A buyer or recipient of 
a transfer of a small unmanned aircraft who wishes to use the aircraft 
as other than a model aircraft must register that aircraft and obtain a 
registration number specific to that aircraft. The only time a fee 
would be required is if the buyer or recipient must create a new 
registration.

[[Page 78623]]

    Part 48 requires owners of small unmanned aircraft used other than 
as model aircraft to update the registration system upon transfer of 
ownership, destruction or export of a registered small unmanned 
aircraft. Thus, once a transfer of ownership has taken place, the 
aircraft owner must access their profile on the registration system and 
update the aircraft information to indicate that the aircraft has been 
transferred. By indicating that the aircraft has been transferred, the 
registration of that aircraft will be cancelled in its entirety.
    Any new owner, who acquires a small unmanned aircraft by any means, 
and intends to use the aircraft other than as a model aircraft must 
register that aircraft prior to operation and mark the device with the 
appropriate information as discussed in the preamble discussion 
entitled, ``Marking.'' Consistent with the comment on the payment of a 
fee for a transfer, a new owner intending to use a small unmanned 
aircraft other than as a model aircraft must register the aircraft and 
thus pay the same registration fee as any other person who acquires 
such a device and wishes to operate it in the NAS.
    In response to commenters' concerns about the identification of a 
transferred aircraft, owners may determine the best approach for 
ensuring that once they transfer an aircraft, that they are no longer 
identified as the owner. One commenter noted that the seller may want 
to remove the registration information from the aircraft. The agency 
supports this as a best practice but it is not required.
    The agency considered comments suggesting other methods to approach 
the registration of transferred small unmanned aircraft (e.g., 
deactivation of ground control software), but has determined that this 
approach will ensure complete and current registration information for 
each aircraft in the least burdensome manner.

G. Certificate of Aircraft Registration

    sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM: The agency received comment 
on issues pertaining to certificates of registration from commenters to 
the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM. In the sUAS Operation and 
Certification NPRM, the agency proposed to extend the part 47 
registration process to sUAS but did not propose any changes to the 
delivery, content, or duration of registration. In the NPRM preamble, 
however, the agency specifically addressed its intent to retain the 
existing requirement for registration renewal every three years for 
small unmanned aircraft registration because it would increase the 
likelihood that the FAA's registration database contains the latest 
information on small unmanned aircraft and aircraft owners.
    An individual recommended that aircraft registration for small UAS 
expire after a period of 12 to 24 months, reasoning that an annual or 
bi-annual renewal of registration will ensure the registration system 
does not become bogged down with UAS's that are no longer in operation. 
Furthermore, the commenter argued that the renewal process would give 
FAA a secondary means of verifying that operators are current and/or 
maintaining their licensing requirements to operate. The Kansas Farm 
Bureau suggested lengthening the time before a registration would 
expire to 6 years to assist in managing program costs from both the FAA 
and the small UAS operator standpoint. The News Media Coalition 
encouraged FAA to consider requiring re-registration only upon the sale 
of a UAS.
    Another individual commenter suggested that UAS operators be 
required to store their ``official registration document'' on the card 
reader contained in the UAS's camera. That commenter also recommended 
that the ``official registration document'' contain the registrant's 
name, registration number, date of registration, and type of operator 
license (i.e., commercial or hobby).
    Clarification/Request for Information: Commenters to the 
Clarification/Request for Information also provided comments related to 
the Certificate of Aircraft Registration. One individual commenter 
recommended that UAS operators should be issued a registration card 
that contains basic safety information and UAS rules and regulations. 
Another individual suggested that UAS operators be required to store 
their ``official registration document'' on the card reader contained 
in the UAS's camera. This commenter also recommended that the 
``official registration document'' contain the registrant's name, 
registration number, date of registration, and type of operator license 
(i.e., commercial or hobby).
    Task Force: The Task Force developed and recommended methods for 
proving registration and marking of small unmanned aircraft. In doing 
so, it addressed the issue of how Certificates of Aircraft Registration 
would be issued. The Task Force recommended that the FAA issue a 
certificate of registration to each registrant at the time of 
registration and that the certificate should be issued electronically 
(perhaps in PDF form), unless the registrant specifically requests a 
paper copy.
    The Task Force also provided recommendations regarding the content 
of the certificate. The certificate should contain the registrant's 
name, the registrant's FAA-issued registration number, and the address 
of the FAA registration Web site that is accessible by law enforcement 
or other authorities for the purposes of confirming registration 
status. For registrants who elect to provide the serial number(s) of 
their aircraft, the certificate should also contain those serial 
number(s). The Task Force encouraged the FAA to include safety and 
regulatory information with the certificate of registration. Any time a 
registered sUAS is in operation, the operator of that sUAS should be 
prepared to produce a legible copy of the certificate of registration 
for inspection, in either electronic or printed form.
    IFR Requirement: The agency agrees with Task Force recommendations 
and comments recommending delivery and availability of the Certificate 
of Aircraft Registration. Since the part 48 registration process is 
exclusively web-based, the FAA can immediately issue an electronic 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration, an efficiency not available under 
part 47.
    Recognizing the prevalence of handheld electronic devices, once the 
registrant completes the part 48 registration process, the Certificate 
will be available for download. Owners may also print a hard copy of 
the Certificate if they wish. The applicant will also receive a copy of 
the Certificate via email, with accompanying educational information. 
Although some commenters addressed certificate storage options, the 
final rule does not restrict how the Certificate is stored as long as 
the certificate is readily available to the owner or operator, as 
applicable. See Sec. Sec.  91.9(b) and 91.203(a)(2); see also Legal 
Interpretation from Mark W. Bury to John Duncan, August 8, 2014. 
Persons operating a small unmanned aircraft are required under 49 
U.S.C. 44103(d) to present the certificate of registration when 
requested by a United States Government, State, or local law 
enforcement officer.
    The Certificate of Aircraft Registration will include information 
that will allow the FAA and law enforcement agencies to identify the 
owner of each small unmanned aircraft registered under part 48. As a 
result, although the FAA received comments suggesting varying 
information that should appear on the Certificate, the FAA has 
determined that the Certificate will include the small unmanned 
aircraft owner name and FAA-issued registration number. At this

[[Page 78624]]

time, these two pieces of information suffice to identify the small 
unmanned aircraft and its owner. The agency does not agree with the 
comment suggesting that the Certificate include information pertaining 
to the ``type of operator license'' because this information is not 
relevant to the identification of the aircraft's owner and notes that 
at the time of this rulemaking, there is no ``license'' required for 
sUAS operations. Additionally, the FAA emphasizes that the Certificate 
does not imply authorization to operate.
    Certificates of Aircraft Registration issued to owners who are 
using their small unmanned aircraft exclusively as model aircraft 
constitute valid registration for all of the small unmanned aircraft 
owned by the individual specified on the application, regardless of how 
many small unmanned aircraft the owner owns, though all being operated 
are required to be marked with the registration number. Certificates of 
Aircraft Registration issued to owners who are not using their aircraft 
exclusively as model aircraft constitute valid registration only for 
the specific aircraft identified on the Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration.
    A Certificate of Aircraft Registration issued in accordance with 
part 48 will be effective once the registration process is complete and 
must be renewed every three years to provide for regular validation of 
aircraft registration and owner contact information. To facilitate the 
identification of a valid Certificate of Aircraft Registration, each 
Certificate will contain the issue date.
    The agency agrees with comments suggesting that aircraft 
registrations should be renewed but does not agree with the purpose of 
the renewal and the time frame for renewal provided by commenters. The 
registration process does not collect information on airman 
qualifications so it may not be used to validate any related 
requirements. A Certificate of Aircraft Registration issued to a person 
using their small unmanned aircraft as a model aircraft must simply be 
renewed by the owner every three years, regardless of when aircraft are 
added to the owner's registration. Certificates of Aircraft 
Registration issued for aircraft used for other than model aircraft 
purposes must be renewed for the specific aircraft designated on the 
Certificate every three years.
    Further, the agency has determined that three years is the 
appropriate duration of a certificate. This period of time is 
consistent with the aircraft registration renewal requirement in part 
47. It also balances the cost concerns raised by the Kansas Farm Bureau 
with the individual's comments suggesting renewal on 12-24 month 
intervals.
    The renewal process consists of a simple verification of existing 
registration information. The renewal must be completed through the 
web-based registration system at any time within 6 months prior to the 
expiration date. The system will send out a reminder at 6 months prior 
to certification expiration. Once completed, the Certificate will be 
extended for three years from the expiration date. The agency expects 
renewal to be efficient, particularly if the aircraft owner has ensured 
that the information provided to the Registry in accordance with the 
final rule registration process remains current during the term of the 
registration. If the information provided to register the aircraft 
changes during the period of registration, the aircraft owner must 
update the Registry through the web-based registration system within 14 
days of the change. No fee is charged for updating information during 
the period of registration.
    The agency agrees with the intent of the recommendation from the 
Task Force and the commenter to the Clarification/Request for 
Information regarding owner and operator education. One of the purposes 
of small unmanned aircraft registration is to educate sUAS owners 
regarding safe operations within the NAS as well as other safety 
information relevant to UAS operations and equipment. As discussed 
later in this preamble, the agency expects to accomplish its sUAS 
education goals by providing information to the aircraft owner during 
the registration process and through follow-up email communication.
    Although the News Media Coalition suggested reregistration only 
upon a sale, there are other circumstances that would result in a need 
to re-register an aircraft (e.g., expiration of registration due to 
failure to renew) and have been captured in the final rule.

H. Registration Marking

    The purpose of aircraft registration marking is to provide a means 
for connecting an aircraft to its owner. The agency received comments 
on the information that should be used to identify that the aircraft is 
registered as well as the methods by which to display the identifying 
information.
    sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM: The sUAS Operation and 
Certification NPRM proposed a requirement for small unmanned aircraft 
to be marked in accordance with part 45, subpart C. Subpart C provides 
requirements for size, spacing, and location of nationality and 
registration marks.
    Many commenters, including the Small UAV Coalition, Aircraft Owners 
and Pilots Association, California Agricultural Aircraft Association, 
Aerospace Industries Association, Modovolate Aviation, LLC, 
Professional Photographers of America, Airlines for America, National 
Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, National Association of 
Realtors, DJI, and Google, generally supported the marking requirement 
as proposed in the NPRM.
    Information that may be used for aircraft identification: Other 
commenters suggested alternatives to the marking requirement proposed 
in the NPRM. Commenters including the Association of Unmanned Vehicle 
Systems International, Associated General Contractors of America, the 
University of North Carolina System, Property Drone Consortium and 
Cherokee Nation Technologies suggested the FAA require registration 
based only on the manufacturer's serial numbers, instead of requiring 
an ``N'' registration number. Several individuals proposed the use of 
cell phone numbers in lieu of, or to augment, the registration number. 
The Virginia Department of Aviation supported the use of a bar code 
system, while Schertz Aerial Services, Inc., favored a parts-tracking 
requirement to facilitate a more efficient and accurate assessment of 
responsibility in the event of an accident. An individual commenter 
recommended a labeling requirement for all UAS, similar to the labeling 
the FCC requires for all transmitters that can be purchased at 
electronic outlets. Another individual commenter said that instead of 
requiring small unmanned aircraft to be registered with ``N'' numbers, 
the aircraft should be identified with an exterior label with the 
owner/operator's name, address, and phone number, as well as an 
operator certificate number where appropriate. Several other individual 
commenters suggested that affixing operator name and phone number to a 
small unmanned aircraft is a more efficient way to identify the 
aircraft in the event of an incident.
    The New Jersey Institute of Technology and the Kansas State 
University UAS Program recommended the FAA add a unique designator to 
the ``N'' registration number (e.g., ``NX'') to clearly identify the 
aircraft as a UAS. ASTM pointed out that it is in the process of 
developing consensus practice standards for the registration and 
marking of unmanned aircraft systems, which an individual

[[Page 78625]]

commenter recommended the FAA follow.
    Methods to display aircraft identification: Another individual 
commenter said the marking requirement should be consistent with recent 
certificates of waiver or authorization provided to persons issued 
exemptions under section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, 
which allow for ``appropriate'' sized markings, or as large as 
practicable for the particular aircraft. Other commenters, including a 
joint submission from the State of Nevada, the Nevada Institute for 
Autonomous Systems and the Nevada FAA-designated UAS Test Site, 
similarly said small unmanned aircraft should be required to display 
registration numbers in the largest size that is appropriate. An 
individual commenter questioned whether the markings should be on the 
underside of the small unmanned aircraft to increase visibility from 
the ground. The University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard School of 
Aerospace Sciences urged the FAA to require small UAS manufacturers to 
provide at least one additional manner of identifying a device other 
than the registration number. The commenter suggested a VIN-type system 
or simply etching the manufacturer's serial number on a substantial 
component of the small UAS.
    Several commenters proposed various electronic means to aid in 
small unmanned aircraft identification. Washington State Department of 
Transportation, Aviation Division and Drone Labs proposed having the 
registration numbers transmitted as part of the transponder signal or 
other means. The Center for Democracy and Technology advocated for an 
unmanned aircraft to emit a signal, such as a radio signal, to aid in 
identification. SkyView Strategies, Inc., recommended a microchip on 
each unmanned aircraft programmed with the registration number so that 
a device, such as a smart phone app, could read the microchip and 
display the aircraft's registration number. SkyView recognized this 
requirement could not go into effect until it is technologically 
feasible.
    Several commenters opposed the requirement that small unmanned 
aircraft display their registration numbers because it would be 
impractical due to the small size of the aircraft. Some of those 
commenters, including the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems 
International, noted that many small unmanned aircraft have limited 
surface area available and often have no adequate fuselage for 
placement of registration markings. Those commenters said the FAA 
should develop alternative means of displaying a registration number 
more conducive to small unmanned aircraft. An individual commenter 
pointed out that for small unmanned aircraft with no ``hull'' or 
fuselage, the only place available for markings is on the booms, which 
are not permanently attached to the hub plate. Thus, the commenter 
noted, the marking would not be permanent, but, rather, on an ``easily 
removed and easily replaced'' component. Associated General Contractors 
of America said the requirement ``would serve little or no useful 
purpose'' because even when displayed in the ``largest practicable 
manner'' such numbers would be invisible from anything more than a few 
feet away.
    Kansas State University UAS Program said the final rule should 
describe acceptable means for locating registration markings for 
nontraditional aircraft (or reference an industry consensus standard 
that does so) that cannot meet current subpart C in part 45 
requirements. Prioria Robotics, Inc. also expressed concern about the 
applicability of the markings requirement to certain small unmanned 
aircraft airframes, and questioned whether, if a vehicle undergoes 
repair and a fuselage is changed, the operator will need to re-register 
the aircraft.
    Several commenters recommended the sUAS operator make the 
aircraft's registration number visible to others on the ground. Trimble 
Navigation Limited and Federal Airways & Airspace favored having the 
sUAS operator display an ID badge with the registration number of the 
aircraft on their person. Trimble Navigation clarified that a badge 
display would be helpful if the FAA intends to use registration of an 
aircraft to identify the operator, but that visual or electronic 
identification of the aircraft is appropriate if the intent is to 
assist in the investigation of accidents. Federal Airways & Airspace 
clarified that this may be useful for very small unmanned aircraft but 
may not be necessary if the unmanned aircraft is large enough to 
display markings to the standard size. Predesa, LLC stated that the 
sUAS operator should be required to post aircraft registration 
information in their vicinity on the ground.
    Regarding whether the rule should require small unmanned aircraft 
to have a fireproof identification plate, as required by part 45 
subpart B, the Small UAV Coalition, Aviation Management Associates, 
Predessa, LLC, and the University of North Dakota's John D. Odegard 
School of Aerospace Sciences agreed with the FAA that a requirement for 
small UAS manufacturers to install a fireproof identification plate 
would not be cost-effective. The National Business Aviation 
Association, DJI, Modovolate Aviation, LLC, and several individual 
commenters also agreed that fireproof plating should not be required.
    Crew Systems, on the other hand, said small unmanned aircraft 
should have a data plate installed, as required by 14 CFR 45.11. 
Aerospace Industries Association also said UAS manufacturers should 
install fireproof identification information on every unmanned 
aircraft, ``[p]erhaps through an electronic device (i.e., imbedded 
chip) or other easy-to-read and damage-resistant means of 
identification.''
    Other commenters addressed the need for ``indestructible'' 
identification plates, although they did not comment specifically on 
whether small UAS manufacturers should be required to attach fireproof 
identification plates in compliance with subpart B of part 45. The Air 
Line Pilots Association said a fire proof plate should be attached to 
the small UAS ``as a permanent identification of the registration of 
the sUAS.'' The Civil Aviation Authority of the Czech Republic said a 
fireproof identification plate should be required and enforced 
according to ICAO Annex 7, which requires the nationality, registration 
mark, and operator name and phone number. The National Agricultural 
Aviation Association, Colorado Agricultural Aviation Association, and 
CropLife America said small UAS should have a registered N-number on 
``an indestructible and unmovable plate'' attached to the UAS for 
identification in case of an accident or incident. Reabe Spraying, Inc. 
said each UAS should have an ``indestructible and non-removable data 
tag with a unique ID code.'' Texas A&M University Corpus Christi/LSUASC 
said that if the registration number is not easily displayed on the 
aircraft, then an ``identifying tag'' should be permanently attached to 
the small UAS. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association said the FAA 
should implement ``additional requirements'' to ensure that a UAS can 
be identified in the event of an accident, incident, or violation, but 
the commenter did not specify what those additional requirements should 
be.
    The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc., the National 
Association of Broadcasters, National Cable & Telecommunications 
Association, and Radio Television digital News Association, and the 
International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions favored 
not having registration marks on small unmanned

[[Page 78626]]

aircraft that will be seen in theatrical and television productions.
    Clarification/Request for Information: In addition to the comments 
on identification and marking provided in response to the sUAS 
Operation and Certification NPRM, the agency also received comments on 
aircraft identification and marking in response to the clarification/
Request for Information. The Clarification/Request for Information 
sought specific information pertaining to aircraft identification and 
marking. Specifically, the document asked for information regarding 
methods currently available for identifying unmanned aircraft, whether 
every unmanned aircraft sold has an individual serial number, and 
methods to identify unmanned aircraft sold without serial numbers or 
those built from kits.
    Information that may be used for aircraft identification: 
Commenters said that no standard method of aircraft identification 
exists for UAS and they recommended ways to identify UAS for 
registration purposes. Chronicled, Inc., wrote that it explored several 
options for including unique identifiers in consumer products, 
including serial number, radio frequency identification (RFID), near 
field communication (NFC), Bluetooth low energy (BLE), QR code, and DNA 
marker. This commenter determined that serial number or encrypted (PKI) 
microchips are the best options currently available and recommended the 
agency initially require the use of serial numbers for registration and 
then over a two year period, require PKI microchips to be included in 
all UAS. Aerospace Industries Association said various methods to 
identify platforms exist, but recommended that FAA seek to collect as 
much information as possible. According to this commenter, high value 
commercial platforms have a serial number to manage warranty claims 
while other commercial platforms, at a minimum, have a stock keeping 
unit (SKU) that can be used to identify the product model number. 
Morphism, LLC recommended using identifiers that encode information 
regarding the type of airframe, operating limitations and operators' 
contact information. Researchers at the University of California, 
Berkeley said UAS should receive and display an identification code to 
enable people and other aircraft to identify them. These researchers 
developed an identification system based on LEDs and unique color 
sequences. NetMoby, Inc. recommended that FAA adopt the Federal 
Communications Commission's registration process and tailor it to meet 
FAA's needs.
    Several commenters noted that many UAS are assembled by consumers 
using parts from a range of sources, which presents a challenge for 
identifying individual products. Additionally, UAS components are 
frequently modified, replaced or upgraded. Some commenters recommended 
that the registration system require use of either a serial number for 
UAS that have serial numbers, or an FAA-generated identification number 
that can be applied to the UAS for those without serial numbers. Other 
commenters recommended that FAA issue a single registration number to 
the UAS operator rather than to each aircraft because hobbyists often 
have dozens of aircraft and it would be too burdensome to register 
every aircraft they buy or build. Several AMA members suggested the 
agency allow AMA members to place their names and addresses or AMA 
numbers on their aircraft as an alternative means of complying with the 
registration requirement.
    Another individual suggested identifying consumer grade UAS by 
serial number and hobby built UAS by radio transmitter and receiver. A 
number of commenters participating in a form letter campaign stated 
that ``there is fundamentally no way to define any major component on a 
model aircraft that could reasonably be registered.''
    Commenters addressing whether each unmanned aircraft sold has a 
unique serial number generally stated that every unmanned aircraft sold 
does not have individual serial numbers, though some UAS do. The 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign said serial numbers are not 
required on UAS and they are not required to be distinct across 
manufacturers, so the agency could not rely on them for identifying 
UAS. Modovolate Aviation, LLC said most UAS have serial numbers and 
asserted it would impose a relatively small burden on manufacturers to 
imprint a serial number as part of the manufacturing process. A law 
firm suggested the agency require manufacturers assign a serial number 
to all UAS operated in the United States. This commenter also said that 
products manufactured before this requirement and other UAS without 
serial numbers could be assigned a registration number by FAA and the 
number would be affixed to the UAS. Delair-Tech suggested if no serial 
number is available for the UAS, the serial number of the autopilot 
module should be used. The Retail Industry Leaders Association said 
most UAS models on the market today do not contain product-specific 
unique identification numbers that consumers can use when registering 
UAS. This commenter noted manufacturers will need time to implement 
process changes to incorporate identification numbers and urged the 
agency to take the time to work with manufacturers with respect to this 
requirement. The commenter cautioned that if FAA adopts the 
registration requirement without waiting for manufacturers to make the 
necessary process changes, the only information consumers will be able 
to provide during registration is the model or inventory number of the 
UAS, which will not be helpful to identify a UAS owner involved in an 
incident.
    Commenters suggested various methods for identifying UAS sold 
without serial numbers or those built with kits. The Wireless Registry 
suggested including a UAS' wireless signal identifier as part of the 
information collected as part of the registration process. The 
commenter explained the UAS' MAC address, a wireless identifier that 
cannot be altered, tied to a specific device would enable FAA to match 
the UAS to other information in the registry, including operator 
information. An individual stated the FCC already requires that all 
model aircraft operate on a very narrow frequency band and UAS 
manufacturers adhere to those rules. This commenter suggested FAA and 
FCC work together to establish a method of encoding each radio system 
with an identifier that would enable the FAA to monitor airspace in 
which UAS are not allowed. The Air Medical Operators Association said 
any UAS with the potential to conflict with a manned aircraft in flight 
must possess a unique identification that can allow for registration. 
This commenter also recommended that product packaging should clearly 
inform the consumer of his or responsibilities as operator. Other 
commenters suggested the following methods for identifying UAS sold 
without serial numbers or those build from kits:

Digital photo.
Detailed description of aircraft (e.g., black quadcopter, white 
hexcopter).
QR code with 8-digit unique alphanumeric identifier that can be affixed 
to aircraft.
RFID tags or transponders.
FAA-issued registration number.
Name and address or AMA number affixed to the inside or outside of the 
airframe.

    Methods to display aircraft identification: Several people 
commented on how operators should

[[Page 78627]]

display markings of their registration number on the UAS. Commenters' 
recommendations included: registration numbers should be prominently 
displayed on the exterior of the unmanned aircraft and be sized based 
on the largest single dimension of the unmanned aircraft; the markings 
should be visible from the ground; registration numbers should be 
displayed using a placard of some sort, or bar code, placed on the 
aircraft; and registration markings should be replaceable because UAS 
operators change parts on a regular basis. A number of commenters 
suggested using a sticker similar to automobile registration tags, 
which would provide visual confirmation of compliance and allow for 
consistency of data. Other commenters expressed concern about required 
markings adding weight to their unmanned aircraft or ruining the 
appearance of their scale models of real aircraft.
    One commenter recommended a registration system in which 
individuals can request from the FAA a reasonable number of stickers 
that are pre-printed with successive serial numbers, and the FAA will 
then record to whom those stickers were sent in a publicly accessible 
database. The individuals can then apply those serial-numbered stickers 
to any model aircraft they own. The commenter contemplated that the 
stickers will self-destruct if the owner attempts to remove them to 
reuse them on a different aircraft. The commenter also suggested that 
if an aircraft is destroyed or sold, the original owner can log onto 
the FAA database to update the information associated with that 
aircraft's serial number.
    Several other commenters noted that a marking system is problematic 
because many aircraft do not have a large enough area on which to place 
an identifier that would be visible from a distance. Some of these 
commenters stated the only reason for a unmanned aircraft to carry a 
registration number is to identify the owner after a crash. These 
commenters asserted that it would make more sense to require UAS 
operators to affix a label with their contact information inside their 
aircraft than to develop and implement a registration system. Noting 
markings will not be visible on most unmanned aircraft during flight, 
Delair-Tech recommended using a position reporting mechanism to enable 
authorities to access information on in-flight devices. This commenter 
said following an accident, a marking of the manufacturer name, serial 
number and type designator, designed to withstand a certain degree of 
damage, would enable authorities to find the UAS owner through the 
registration system.
    Comments on the use of the N-numbering system to register UAS: A 
few commenters recommended that the registration system for UAS be 
separate from the current N-numbering system used for manned aircraft. 
To ensure that the FAA does not run out of N-numbers, one individual 
suggested moving to a 6- or 7-digit number for UAS, while another 
individual suggested the FAA open up the first 3 spaces to allow the 
use of letters, which the commenter asserted will increase the 
availability of the numbers by 44,279,424 spaces. Another individual 
said the registration number should be ``sufficiently long/random'' to 
prevent people from creating registration numbers without actually 
registering.
    One individual commenter suggested that the registration numbering 
system delineate between commercial users (for which the N-numbering 
system could be used) and private users. Another individual said the N-
number given to small UAS intended for commercial use should be 
followed by a ``- C'' designation to clearly show that this aircraft is 
going to be used commercially. Several other individuals recommended 
the FAA use alternate prefixes for the registration number (e.g., 
``U,'' ``UX,'' ``UAS,'' ``UAV,'' ``NQ,'' or ``M'' for model aircraft).
    The Property Drone Consortium pointed out that an N-number on a UAS 
will not be visible to observers while the UAS is in flight, and will 
therefore only be used to identify the owner of a UAS that has been 
involved in an incident and recovered. This commenter also questioned 
whether it will be sufficient to self-register based on a serial 
number, requiring an FAA assigned N-number only when a serial number is 
not available or easily accessible. An individual commenter said the 
manufacturer serial number should be sufficient for identification 
purposes, instead of a separate N-number. Another individual also 
supported the use of a manufacturer serial number, but said an ``N'' 
should still be placed in front of the serial number to show that it is 
registered.
    One individual commenter stated that because some UAS are too small 
to effectively display an N-number, an electronic version of an N-
number should be used. This commenter asserted that the electronic 
serial number (ESN) can be encoded into the receiver/transmitter used 
to control the UAS, and then broadcast whenever the transmitter 
commands the aircraft. The commenter suggested that authorities could 
then identify the UAS in question, and that that interception would be 
legal as the ESN is broadcast over the 2.4 GHZ publicly shared 
frequencies.
    One individual commenter recommended a separate category of N-
numbers for historic airplanes, similar to what has been done for full-
scale historic cars and aircraft.
    A few individual commenters supported the use of the current N-
numbering system for UAS, with one commenter asserting that it is 
already working well for commercial UAS operations.
    Task Force: The FAA asked the Task Force to develop and recommend 
methods for proving registration and marking. Factors to consider 
included, but were not limited to, how a small unmanned aircraft will 
be able to be identified with the registered owner (i.e., a marking 
requirement).
    Information that may be used for aircraft identification: Because 
the main goal of registration is to create a connection between the 
aircraft and its owner, the Task Force recognized that it is necessary 
to mark each registered small unmanned aircraft with a unique 
identifier that is readily traceable back to its owner. The Task Force 
recommended two options for complying with this marking requirement. 
Specifically, registrants can either affix a single FAA-issued 
registration number to all the aircraft they own or they can rely on a 
manufacturer's serial number that is already permanently affixed to the 
aircraft. A small unmanned aircraft owner may only rely on the 
manufacturer's serial number, however, if the owner provided that 
serial number to the FAA during registration and if it appears on the 
owner's certificate of registration.
    Methods to display aircraft identification: The Task Force further 
recommended a requirement that the owner and operator ensure that all 
markings are readily accessible and maintained in a condition that is 
readable and legible upon close visual inspection prior to any 
operation. The Task Force believed that markings enclosed in a 
compartment, such as a battery compartment, should be considered 
``readily accessible'' if they can be easily accessed without the use 
of tools.
    IFR Requirement: Information that may be used to identify an 
aircraft. The IFR requires all small unmanned aircraft to display a 
unique identifier. As discussed throughout this preamble, individuals 
registering aircraft that will be used exclusively as model aircraft 
will receive a Certificate of Registration

[[Page 78628]]

with a single registration number that constitutes registration of all 
of the individual's small unmanned aircraft. This number must be 
displayed on each small unmanned aircraft owned by this individual and 
used exclusively as model aircraft as proof of registration and to 
connect the small unmanned aircraft with an owner.
    Each aircraft used as other than a model aircraft will receive a 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration with a unique registration number 
that must be displayed on the aircraft.
    The FAA received a variety of recommendations pertaining to the 
information that should be affixed to the small unmanned aircraft for 
purposes of identification (e.g., phone numbers, bar codes, QR codes, 
operator contact information and AMA number). In some cases, commenters 
recommended information in addition to a registration number. The 
agency considered these recommendations but determined that once an 
aircraft is registered, the registration number provides sufficient 
information to locate the aircraft's owner in the FAA's registration 
database. Therefore, requiring the owner to display additional contact 
information on the aircraft would create an unnecessary burden.
    Regarding the comment seeking to display an AMA number in 
particular, the Civil Aircraft Registry and the registration system 
implemented in this IFR are premised on the ability to uniquely 
identify and owner and their aircraft. The FAA does not govern the 
membership structures of section 336 organizations and cannot be 
assured of the uniqueness of those organizations' identification 
systems. Therefore, the FAA has no assurance that such a member number 
will provide the requisite unique identifier. Thus, the FAA will 
maintain an FAA-issued registration number for the marking scheme for 
small unmanned aircraft used as model aircraft.
    With regard to ASTM consensus and marking standards, the FAA notes 
that, as of this writing, those standards are still in development, and 
thus, they cannot be used for this rulemaking.
    Finally, a number of commenters assumed that an FAA registration 
number would include the ``N'' prefix that is used for identification 
of U.S. registered aircraft. The agency clarifies that the registration 
numbers issued to small unmanned aircraft under the IFR are not 
intended to be used for nationality identification and thus will not 
include the ``N'' prefix because the part 48 registration process is 
available only to small unmanned aircraft operating within the United 
States.
    Methods to display aircraft identification: To ensure that the 
small unmanned aircraft can be identified, the FAA will require that 
the unique identifier must be maintained in a condition that is 
legible. The unique identifier must be affixed to the small unmanned 
aircraft by any means necessary to ensure that it will remain affixed 
to the aircraft during routine handling and all operating conditions.
    For small unmanned aircraft registered under this part, the FAA 
does not specify a particular surface upon which the unique identifier 
must be placed. Rather, recognizing commenters' concern about the small 
size of many of the small unmanned aircraft that must be registered, 
the FAA simply requires that the unique identifier must be readily 
accessible and visible upon inspection of the small unmanned aircraft.
    In accordance with Task Force recommendations, a unique identifier 
is deemed readily accessible if it can be accessed without the use of 
any tools (e.g., battery compartment). This flexibility is expected to 
resolve the concerns of the television and motion picture industry and 
preserve the authenticity of a replica if so desired, given that the 
unique identifier need not be displayed on the exterior of the small 
unmanned aircraft.
    Additionally, the flexibility with respect to the location of the 
unique identifier will facilitate the use of a small unmanned aircraft 
serial number as the unique identifier at such time as the 
Administrator determines that serial numbers can be effectively used to 
identify aircraft owners within the small unmanned aircraft 
registration system. The FAA notes that, currently, serial numbers may 
be repeated since there is no mechanism in place for manufacturers to 
ensure that a given serial number is unique to a specific aircraft. 
However, the FAA supports any efforts by sUAS manufacturers to 
collectively standardize aircraft serial numbers, such that each small 
unmanned aircraft will receive a unique serial number in production.
    With regard to comments on the visibility of the markings, the FAA 
cannot require all small unmanned aircraft to display a registration 
number visible to people on the ground because some small unmanned 
aircraft may be too small to satisfy this requirement. The agency 
notes, however, that during operation of the sUAS, a Certificate of 
Aircraft Registration must be readily available to the person operating 
the sUAS, so that they may provide it to federal, state, or local law 
enforcement when requested. See 49 U.S.C. 44103(d); 14 CFR 91.9(b) and 
91.203(a); see also Legal Interpretation from Mark W. Bury to John 
Duncan, August 8, 2014. The Certificate of Registration can be a 
legible paper copy (or photocopy), or it may be provided by showing it 
in a legible electronic form, such as on a smartphone. Thus, while the 
agency considered comments suggesting additional documentation 
requirements such as an ID badge or placard on or near the sUAS 
operator, the FAA has determined that such requirements would not serve 
a valid purpose.
    Additionally, commenters' recommendations pertaining to a 
requirement to identify a small unmanned aircraft using certain 
equipment are beyond the scope of this rule. Neither the sUAS Operation 
and Certification NPRM nor this rule contain minimum equipage 
requirements for small UAS, such as a transponder. Thus, small unmanned 
aircraft may not have the equipage necessary to electronically transmit 
a registration number.
    Regarding comments related to the installation of fireproof plates, 
Executive Order 12,866 prohibits an executive agency from adopting a 
regulation unless the agency determines ``that the benefits of its 
intended regulation justify its costs.'' \38\ In the sUAS Operation and 
Certification NPRM, the FAA explained its belief that requiring the 
installation of identification plates would not be cost-justified. None 
of the commenters advocating for the use of fireproof identification 
plating or other forms of fireproof marking submitted data that would 
allow the FAA to find that adopting this requirement would result in 
benefits sufficient to justify the costs of this requirement. 
Additionally, the FAA notes that for some of the smaller and lighter 
weight unmanned aircraft that operate under this rule, an 
identification plate would add additional weight, which could result in 
reduced flight performance and/or endurance. Accordingly, the FAA has 
decided against including a requirement for a fireproof identification 
plate in this rule.

I. Education

    sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM: Availability of education 
materials was addressed in the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM. 
The National Association of REALTORS, SkyView Strategies, Inc., and 
others recommended that FAA initiate a campaign to educate the general 
public on UAS due to the abundance of misinformation currently 
available. The Air Line Pilots Association urged FAA to take advantage 
of internet-based

[[Page 78629]]

communication of safety material, training resources, databases of 
airport locations and airspace restrictions, best practices, in-service 
irregularity reports and the like, because this is possibly the only 
practical means of reaching the small UAS pilot population.
    Clarification/Request for Information: Many commenters, including 
the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) and the National 
Retail Federation, stated that a public education campaign and the 
development of guidance materials and handbooks to ensure users know 
the rules for flying UAS is essential to promote responsible use of 
UAS. Other commenters said that requiring manufacturers to include a 
pamphlet with each aircraft that describes these rules would also be 
effective. Another commenter suggested that online retailers require 
purchasers to navigate to a page describing UAS safety requirements 
before completing the purchase. Many commenters, including the 
Experimental Aircraft Association, lauded FAA's existing Know Before 
You Fly program and recommended continuing to expand it. Some 
commenters suggested creating a GPS-enabled app that would identify 
safe and unsafe areas for flying, while others said FAA should further 
develop its existing B4UFly app for all mobile platforms. A commenter 
said that off-limit areas should be marked or advertised as such. Some 
commenters said that operators should be required to pass a training 
course, a practical exam, or obtain an operator certificate before 
flying a UAS.
    Task Force: Recognizing how important it is that all users of the 
NAS receive information on safety in the NAS, the Task Force 
recommended the registration process contain some sort of education 
component and acknowledgment, with controls in place such that the 
registration process would be incomplete until the registrant has 
acknowledged receipt of this information. The information provided 
could be similar to the existing content in the Know Before You Fly 
program.
    IFR Requirement: The FAA establishes regulatory standards to ensure 
safe operations in the NAS. The FAA's safety system is largely based 
on, and dependent upon, voluntary compliance with these regulatory 
standards. An essential element of this strategy is FAA's effort to 
encourage a safety culture, and, to that end, ensure comprehensive 
educational material is readily available to every user of the NAS. The 
FAA agrees with commenters and the Task Force with respect to the 
importance of educational information in the registration process.
    The small unmanned aircraft registration platform described in this 
rule will require the registrant to review a summary of sUAS 
operational guidelines before completing small unmanned aircraft 
registration. The FAA believes this is an invaluable access point to 
deliver sUAS operational safety information. The information will also 
direct registrants to additional sources of safety information 
generated by the FAA and other stakeholders, such as faasafety.gov and 
knowbeforeyoufly.org.
    To reach registrants after they complete the registration process, 
the FAA will develop a process to use the small unmanned aircraft 
registry information (such as email and mailing address) to offer 
safety-related information. Delivering post-registration safety 
information to registrants on a continuing basis will help to remind 
the registrant of their safety-of-flight obligations and help reduce 
sUAS risks in the NAS. The FAA will develop, maintain, and deliver 
easily-accessible safety information directed specifically to sUAS 
owners and operators. To maximize usage of the information by the 
recipient, the FAA will carefully meter its delivery of information via 
these access points to maximize effective consumption.

J. Compliance Philosophy and Enforcement

    Clarification/Request for Information: The FAA received several 
comments about enforcement. Modovolate Aviation, LLC expressed support 
of FAA's proposed registration requirement of UAS stating it will 
improve the ability for law enforcement officials ``to investigate 
unsafe and reckless practices and to take enforcement action when 
appropriate.''
    The Minnesota Department of Transportation's (MnDOT) Office of 
Aeronautics, the Arlington Police Department (APD) and several 
individual commenters raised concerns about enforcing a registration 
requirement. MnDOT Office of Aeronautics noted one challenge associated 
with enforcement of the current program is a general lack of awareness 
of the State's role in regulating UAS and aviation, as well as a lack 
of awareness among operators, airports, law enforcement and the general 
public of the aircraft registration requirements and commercial 
operators licensing requirements. This commenter noted that 
registration could be used as a vehicle for providing information to 
the public about program requirements and the States in regulating UAS 
and aviation
    APD said it and other local law enforcement agencies across the 
country do not have the capacity or the authority to enforce FAA's UAS 
rules and regulations. While APD will assist the FAA as witnesses or 
reporting entities for UAS rules violations, the commenter said the FAA 
must retain the responsibility for enforcement.
    A number of individual commenters raised general concerns about the 
enforceability of a registration requirement. Several commenters 
asserted extending registration requirements to recreational users will 
be difficult to enforce and will not be worth the expense required to 
develop and implement the program, including the cost to train local 
law enforcement officials. Others noted no Federal, State or local law 
enforcement agency has the budget or work force to enforce a 
registration requirement for all aircraft, including model aircraft. 
One commenter compared this registration requirement to the Federal 
Communications Commission's effort to require Citizen Band radio users 
to apply for a license to operate, which, according to the commenter, 
ultimately was too costly to enforce. Other commenters questioned 
whether the FAA has sufficient manpower to enforce the registration 
requirement and how enforcement responsibilities will be shared with 
local law enforcement.
    Some individuals provided general comments about penalties for 
failing to register a UAS. One commenter recommended a one-time 
allowance for anyone caught violating the registration requirement and 
a large fine for subsequent violations, while other commenters 
suggested a large fine for all offenses.
    Several commenters addressed the issue of penalties. One commenter 
remarked that registration will be worthless unless there are negative 
consequences (e.g., fines or revocation of registration certificate) 
for operators who fail to register or mark their aircraft. Another 
commenter suggested that a penalty similar to the penalty for driving 
an unlicensed car be imposed for operating a UAS without the proper 
registration.
    Task Force: The Task Force recommended that the FAA establish a 
clear and proportionate penalty framework for violations. It cited the 
FAA's current registration-related penalties and stated they were 
established in order to deter suspected drug traffickers and tax 
evaders who failed to register aircraft as part of larger nefarious 
schemes. The Task Force

[[Page 78630]]

recommended a separate FAA policy driving a proportionate response for 
inadvertent sUAS registration violations, without which operators could 
find themselves exposed to aggressive enforcement.
    FAA Response: The FAA Administrator has the authority to prescribe, 
revise, and enforce standards in accordance with Title 49 of the United 
States Code, Subtitle VII, Chapter 447, Safety Regulation. This 
authority is used to protect the public's safety and the agency's 
enforcement authority is exercised to obtain compliance with applicable 
aviation safety and security requirements.
    Earlier this year, the FAA announced a new compliance philosophy 
that uses a strategic approach to safety oversight.\39\ The FAA 
believes that its compliance philosophy, supported by an established 
safety culture, is instrumental in ensuring both compliance with 
regulations and the identification of hazards and management of risk. 
If an individual or entity is found to have not registered the aircraft 
prior to its operation, the FAA's compliance philosophy will be applied 
appropriately.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \39\ See FAA Order 8000.373 available at http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/FAA_Order_8000.373.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    To mitigate risks in the NAS and ensure compliance FAA has used and 
will continue to use outreach and education to encourage compliance 
with regulatory requirements that pertain to the registration of 
unmanned aircraft. The FAA may also use administrative action or legal 
enforcement action to gain compliance. Failure to register an aircraft 
can result in civil penalties up to $27,500. Criminal penalties for 
failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000 under 18 U.S.C. 
3571 and/or imprisonment up to 3 years. 49 U.S.C. 46306.

K. Privacy

    sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM: In the NPRM for the sUAS 
Operation and Certification rule, one commenter addressed database 
accessibility. Event 38 Unmanned Systems suggested that FAA create a 
database of registered operators, but limit accessibility to FAA and 
law enforcement.
    Clarification/Request for Information: The Clarification/Request 
for Information requested information about the storage of registration 
data.
    Registration Data Storage Method: Many commenters expressed concern 
about the security of personal identifying information in light of 
recent breaches, and recommended that data be stored in some sort of 
secure database (e.g., encrypted database, secured server, database 
under the control of FAA, central database with 256 bit AES digital 
encryption, protected with HIPAA-type controls) in compliance with 
government requirements. Several commenters noted the data should be 
stored in a nationally accessible database so that it can be shared 
with local law enforcement agencies responsible for enforcing the 
rules. Other commenters recommended the FAA store registration data the 
same way the FCC stores amateur (HAM) radio licenses. Another commenter 
suggested registration data for model aircraft should be maintained by 
the AMA. Some commenters said there should not be a central registry 
due to data security concerns, while others recommended storing the 
registration information on paper to reduce the possibility of personal 
information being hacked or stolen.
    EPIC stated that recreational UAS operators have an expectation of 
privacy, so the FAA should adopt safeguards to protect those 
registrants' information from improper release and use by both the 
public and other government agencies.
    Multiple commenters, including South Florida UAV Consortium and 
Morris P. Hebert, Inc., expressed concern with the security of online 
registration systems. Some commenters indicated that they would be 
supportive of electronic or Web-based registration if the agency could 
guarantee that the registration site would be secure. A commenter also 
suggested to ensure that an electronic signature be included in the 
registration process to increase security. Along with adding security 
measures to any online site, an individual expressed concern with the 
authentication process of online registrations. A few commenters 
suggested that it would be difficult for the agency to create and 
implement an authentication program sufficient to verify the identity 
of those registering prior to the proposed December 2015 deadline.
    The Air Medical Operators Association and the Colorado Agricultural 
Aviation Association said the data should be stored and maintained by 
the FAA and easily accessible to the agency and law enforcement 
agencies for enforcement purposes. The National Retail Federation 
asserted retailers should not be required to store any kind of UAS 
registration information; the system should be maintained by the FAA 
for use by the FAA and local law enforcement agencies. Similarly, the 
Toy Industry Association said manufacturers should not be required to 
maintain UAS registration information.
    Chronicled, Inc. suggested using a distributed blockchain based 
system in which the FAA would not own the data, but would have complete 
access to the data. In a blockchain-based system, the registrants would 
own their registration data and the UAS product history would pass on 
to any subsequent owners of the UAS. Travelers Insurance Company 
recommended the data be stored in a searchable database that would 
allow for data mining with respect to all the registration information, 
including manufacturer, type, serial number, vendor and purchaser with 
protections for personally identifiable information.
    Registration Data Accessibility: In the Clarification/Request for 
Information, DOT and FAA asked who should have access to the 
registration data. Many commenters, including Modovolate Aviation, LLC, 
and NetMoby, said that the UAS registration data should be available to 
the public via the same search methods as the current manned aircraft 
registration data. Many commenters noted the data must be available to 
the public in order for the public to identify the owner of a UAS 
involved in an incident and to notify the appropriate government 
authority. NetMoby also said State laws require the exchange of 
information for automobile accidents and asserted the same should be 
required for UAS incidents.
    Aerospace Industries Association, Property Drone Consortium, Real 
Time Technology Group and individual commenters suggested all 
stakeholders require access to the data, but different stakeholders 
have different information needs. These commenters said the type of 
information each stakeholder should have access to should be controlled 
on a need to know basis. Aerospace Industries Association also cited 
FAA's Federal Records Center (FRC) as an example of how the data could 
be managed. The commenter explained licensees are registered and have 
access to their detailed information, while third parties have access 
to a limited amount of the information necessary to conduct business, 
but not to all of the detailed information. A law firm noted concerns 
about confidential proprietary information could be addressed by 
allowing for redaction of certain confidential financial information, 
as is currently done with the FAA Civil Aircraft Registry.
    Several commenters said only the registrant and authorized 
government

[[Page 78631]]

agencies, including DOT, FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, 
and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local law enforcement 
officials should have access to the registration data because of 
privacy concerns. One commenter said the data should only be available 
to law enforcement and FAA personnel via the existing National Crime 
Information Computer datalinks. Some commenters said law enforcement 
officials should have access to this data only when there is an active 
investigation into a particular registration and registrants should be 
informed when their data is accessed. Many commenters said the data 
should be treated as confidential information and a few suggested DOT 
or FAA personnel should have the ability to access the data only with a 
court order, warrant or FOIA request. A few commenters expressed 
concern that if the registration data were publically available, owners 
of expensive UAS would be targets of robbery.
    EPIC stated that there must be strict restrictions against the 
general disclosure of registrants' personal information to government 
agencies and private entities, except as necessary to promote the FAA's 
mission of establishing safety and privacy in UAS operations. Noting 
that privacy concerns are greater for hobbyists (who are more likely to 
register with private home addresses) than for commercial operators, 
EPIC recommended that the registration database of commercial operators 
be publicly accessible, but the database of recreational operators only 
be accessible for limited purposes related to protecting the safety and 
privacy of the public. EPIC claimed that, given the fast-growing market 
for UAS, a publicly accessible database of operators would implicate 
privacy and safety concerns comparable to those that inspired the 
Driver's Privacy Protection Act, which generally prohibits the release 
and use of registered drivers' personal information except for limited 
purposes. As such, EPIC asserted that UAS registration information 
should be treated the same as the driver records collected by state 
departments of motor vehicles.
    The Arlington, Texas, Police Department said that local law 
enforcement agencies should be given real-time access to the database 
to enable them to seek information about a specific UAS registration 
and to provide notification about unregistered UAS.
    Usage of Registration Data: Many of the commenters who responded to 
this question, including the National Retail Federation and 
individuals, said the data should only be used for law enforcement 
purposes. Other commenters suggested additional uses of the data. For 
example, Travelers insurance company recommended the data be available 
for use for underwriting, risk assessment, and for establishing loss 
history. AIA said regulators could use the metadata to determine market 
size, concentration and type and volume of operations. Aerospace 
Industries Association also said registration should not prompt 
additional State tax collection processes as it does with manned 
aircraft purchases. Real Time Technology suggested the data could be 
used at FAA's discretion for a number of purposes, including: To 
maintain an accurate association of UAS with multiple users over time; 
to compile accurate records of corporate UAS assets; to assure 
compliance with registration requirements for UAS operations; to 
authenticate registration for operational integrity in the field; to 
track incidents associated with UAS or owners; and to collect 
operational flight data from participating facilities. An individual 
said FAA could use the data to generate aggregate statistical data on 
commercial UAS activities to gauge commercial UAS impact on the NAS. A 
few commenters noted registration data could be used to recover stolen 
or lost property, alert owners of recalls, or to disseminate safety 
information, including Notices to Airmen, to registrants. Some 
commenters expressed concern that registration data could be used to 
abuse or harass UAS owners. Others expressed concern that in asking how 
the data should be used, the agency does not seem to know why it is 
seeking to collect the data.
    EPIC stated its position that recreational operators have a 
legitimate privacy interest in avoiding the disclosure of their names, 
addresses, and telephone numbers, and that it would serve no legitimate 
purpose to make such personal information available beyond the scope of 
a particular privacy or security threat.\40\ As such, EPIC stated the 
FAA should adopt a general prohibition against the disclosure of 
personal information, including the name, address, and number of the 
registration. EPIC further stated that permitted uses of the registry 
should be limited to serve the FAA's stated purposes of allowing 
``individuals and title search companies to determine the legal 
ownership of an aircraft'' and to ``provide aircraft owners and 
operators information about potential mechanical defects or unsafe 
conditions of their aircraft in the form of airworthiness directives.'' 
To that end, EPIC suggested that appropriate uses of registration data 
by the FAA would include providing information to identify the operator 
of a UAS that has caused injury, or in connection with a legal 
proceeding, and providing UAS owners and operators information on any 
relevant mechanical defects or unsafe aircraft conditions.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \40\ EPIC cited legal precedent to support the propositions that 
individuals have a legitimate privacy interest in avoiding 
disclosure of their names, addresses, and telephone numbers (see 
Dep't of Defense v. Fed. Labor Relations Auth., 510 U.S. 487, 500 
(1994)) and that this privacy interest remains intact even when the 
information is properly disclosed to the public under certain 
circumstances (see U.S. Dept. of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for 
Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749, 767, 770 (1989)). EPIC further 
stated that limiting the use and disclosure of personal information 
submitted by registrants is consistent with their expectations of 
privacy.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Other General Comments: Commenters raised additional concerns 
regarding a UAS registration system. Skyward, Inc. said in 2013 the 
DOT's Office of the Inspector General found that the aircraft 
registration system had experienced significant data quality and 
security issues. The commenter noted data quality and security issues 
are exacerbated when data are hard to update or there is little 
incentive for individuals to provide updated information. Skyward, Inc. 
was ``concerned (1) that the Department's focus on enforcement may 
alienate potential registrants, (2) about questions related to managing 
registration of aircraft owned by individuals who are not US citizens 
or are not permanent residents, and (3) about how such a registration 
system may manage [s]UAS that are passing through the US by visitors 
who bring drones into the US temporarily.''
    Skyward, Inc. also expressed concern about unintended consequences 
that could result from ``hasty implementation'' of the registration 
system. Similarly, an individual stated that based on the questions 
posed in the Clarification/Request for Information, it appears ``the 
FAA has not done the necessary preparation to stand-up a registration 
system to handle the necessary volume of registrants.''
    Task Force: The Task Force recommended that the FAA collect only 
name and street address of applicants for registration. While the Task 
Force recognized that a registrant's email address and telephone number 
may be useful for the FAA to disseminate safety-related information to 
UAS owners, the Task Force nevertheless believed disclosure of such 
information be optional. With the exception of information released to 
law

[[Page 78632]]

enforcement, the Task Force urged the FAA to prevent the release of any 
personal information that the agency is not specifically required by 
law to disclose. Because this new requirement will impact unmanned 
aircraft owners who do not have the means to protect their identities 
and addresses behind corporate structures (as some manned aircraft 
owners currently do), the Task Force believed that it is important for 
the FAA to take all possible steps to shield the information of 
privately owned aircraft from unauthorized disclosure, including 
issuing an advance statement that the information collected will be 
considered to be exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of 
Information Act.
    IFR Requirement: This rule provides a Web-based process for 
registration of small unmanned aircraft and issuance of Certificates of 
Aircraft Registration. The privacy impacts have been analyzed by the 
FAA in the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) for the Civil Aviation 
Registry Applications (AVS Registry) and the Privacy Act System of 
Records Notice (SORN) DOT/FAA 801 Aircraft Registration System has been 
updated accordingly.
    The FAA conducted a PIA of this rule as required by section 
522(a)(5) of division H of the FY 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Act, 
Public Law 108-447, 118 Stat. 3268 (Dec. 8, 2004) and section 208 of 
the E-Government Act of 2002, Public Law 107-347, 116 Stat. 2889 (Dec. 
17, 2002). The assessment considers any impacts of the rule on the 
privacy of information in an identifiable form. The FAA has determined 
that this rule would impact the FAA's handling of personally 
identifiable information (PII). As part of the PIA that the FAA 
conducted as part of this rulemaking, the FAA analyzed the effect this 
impact might have on collecting, storing, and disseminating PII and 
examined and evaluated protections and alternative information handling 
processes in developing the rule in order to mitigate potential privacy 
risks. The PIA has been included in the docket for this rulemaking.
    The FAA agrees with the Task Force that accessibility of this 
information to law enforcement and the FAA is the utmost priority in 
establishing this registry. As such, the security, simplicity, and 
accessibility of the system to those groups were the foremost goals in 
the FAA's determinations of system design. Routine uses are described 
in the SORN.\41\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \41\ Persons wishing to access or comment on the System of 
Records Notice should consult docket No. DOT-OST-2015-0235.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Commenters were mainly concerned with two issues: information 
security and access to the registry information. First, regarding the 
security of the registry information, the FAA developed this Web-based 
registration system in compliance with all federal information 
technology requirements and guidelines regarding security and 
protection of information including the Federal Information Security 
Management Act of 2002 as amended by the Federal Information Security 
Modernization Act of 2014 and OMB and National Institute of Standards 
and Technology guidelines. Access to the system depends on a validated 
email address and a password created by the user. The system is 
identified by a digital certificate so that the public has confidence 
that they are interacting with the authentic registration site. The 
system encrypts all of the information provided by the users while they 
use the system as well as user information stored within the system. 
The system has also been designed to protect information based on the 
potential for serious impact from a security compromise. In addition, 
the system protects credit card information in accordance with PCI Data 
Security Standards.
    Second, regarding the accessibility of the system data, the Privacy 
Act System of Records Notice DOT/FAA 801 Aircraft Registration System, 
provides notice to the public of the agency's privacy practices 
regarding the collection, use, sharing, safeguarding, maintenance, and 
disposal of information that affects individuals and their personally 
identifiable information (PII). The SORN identifies the routine uses 
for the PII collected for small unmanned aircraft registration. The 
SORN has been published in the Federal Register and addresses the 
disclosure of the small unmanned aircraft owner's name and address.
    The FAA disagrees with commenters who say that the Registry should 
reside with the AMA or any other organization. By statute, the FAA is 
charged with establishing such a registry.
    As provided in the SORN, all information in the database will be 
available to law enforcement in order to achieve one of the FAA's 
primary priorities in creating this system, which is to ensure a safe 
and secure NAS. Accomplishing this goal involves prioritizing the 
ability of law enforcement to help us identify the owner of a sUAS that 
has violated an operating rule or has been used to either accidentally 
or intentionally endanger other NAS users or people on the ground.
    Additionally, as provided in the SORN, the general public will be 
able to search the part 48 registry database by the unique identifier. 
The name and address associated with that unique identifier will 
populate in accordance with that search.

L. Other Methods To Encourage Accountability and Responsible Use of the 
National Airspace System

    Clarification/Request for Information: The FAA received comments 
from many organizations and individuals on additional means beyond 
aircraft registration to encourage accountability and responsible use 
of UAS.
    The agency received comments affirming the registration requirement 
as a method to encourage accountability and responsible use of UAS. The 
Air and Surface Transport Nurses Association said that a registration 
requirement would be a ``step in the right direction in terms of 
safety.'' EAA stated that while registration will create a system of 
accountability, safety is dependent on the knowledge and decisions made 
by UAS users. An individual commenter noted registration would help 
recreational operators to take UAS use seriously. Another individual 
stated requiring all operators to register their UAS and to obtain a 
pilot license are both necessary to document the aircraft are airworthy 
and the operators are properly trained in safe operation. Rotor Sport 
and other commenters recommended the FAA look to the AMA for guidance 
and counsel so that the agency can create policies that foster 
acceptable use and safety for the public while at the same time are 
intelligent and flexible to meet the needs of all model aviation 
stakeholders.
    Most of the commenters addressing this issue asserted that a 
registration requirement would not encourage accountability and 
responsible use of UAS. Two of the main reasons given for this 
assertion were that registration would only be useful in rare cases 
when a registered UAS is recovered after an incident, and ``bad 
actors'' will simply not register. Several commenters, including the 
Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted registration numbers on a UAS 
would be invisible to those observing a reckless or malicious UAS 
operation, thereby limiting the enforcement benefits. These

[[Page 78633]]

commenters said FAA has not provided any evidence to demonstrate that 
registration of these aircraft will improve safety of the NAS or people 
on the ground. They believe the safety rules are important, but a 
registration requirement would have no effect on safety. One commenter 
noted registration of UAS will enable FAA to identify the operator in 
case of an accident, but it does not address the actual problem: 
untrained pilots operating in the NAS. This commenter stressed the 
importance of a type certificate stating, ``It certifies that the UAS 
is airworthy, and also requires a trained pilot to operate in the 
NAS.''
    A few commenters asserted FAA has not been able to accurately track 
many of the 357,000 aircraft registered under the current registration 
program, and questioned the agency's ability to manage the registration 
of hundreds of thousands of UAS. A number of commenters participating 
in a form letter campaign stated that registration of model aircraft, 
in particular, ``would have had little to no effect on the few rogue 
pilots that have caused concern with the FAA and DOT and would only 
serve to prevent law abiding citizens from enjoying the freedom and 
liberty set forth by the US Constitution.'' Many commenters said 
instead of encouraging accountability and responsible use, a 
registration requirement would increase burdens on responsible 
operators, waste tax payer dollars, and punish those who follow the 
rules.
    Several individual commenters asserted that the proposed 
registration requirement is unnecessary as the registration issue is 
already being addressed in the current section 333 exemption process 
and proposed part 107 (the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM).
    A few commenters proposing other methods to encourage 
accountability and responsible UAS use said that manufacturers should 
be required to install geo-fencing software in their models to prevent 
UAS from flying in restricted areas. Other commenters said they should 
be required to install transponders that would transmit the 
registration number.
    Modovolate Aviation said the following would encourage 
accountability and responsible use of UAS: ``(1) Prompt promulgation of 
a general rule for sUAS, following the FAA's 25 February 2015 proposal; 
(2) streamlining and acceleration of the section 333 exemption process; 
and (3) eventual replacement of this system of regulation with one 
requiring vendor self-certification of specific technological safety 
features as a condition of sale.''
    Delair-Tech recommended various options that would require the 
manufacturer to install software that would trigger the need to 
register before the UAS would be operational. The South Florida UAV 
Consortium recommended that UASs be restricted to a limited operation 
until the operator completes a training course and receives a code to 
unlock the software to allow it to fly its full range. An individual 
commenter said there should be an identification process that requires 
a name and address to be registered to a serial number before 
electronic operating software can be downloaded to the UAS.
    Skyward, Inc. said the Task Force should examine approaches that 
promote safety ``by providing opt-in conduits for registrants to 
receive educational material, safety/recall information from 
manufacturers, insurance discounts, and other benefits.'' In addition, 
Skyward suggested that the proposed registration system serve as a 
facilitator for subsequent services such as automated delivery of 
temporary flight restrictions. Other commenters similarly recommended 
the registration system contain some sort of educational or training 
component. Aviation Management Associates said the FAA should encourage 
registration of all UAS (including those that are not required to 
register) by providing information and services of value, such as 
enabling operators to receive discounted insurance rates by virtue of 
meeting educational requirements that qualify for registration.
    EPIC recommended that any UAS operating the NAS include a mandatory 
GPS tracking feature that would broadcast the location, course, speed 
over ground, and owner identifying and contact information, similar to 
the Automated Identification System (AIS) for commercial vessels. EPIC 
noted that, unlike with aircraft that are equipped with ADS-B, aircraft 
information about aircraft equipped with AIS is available to the public 
through freely available apps.
    Union Pacific Railroad stated that it supports other reasonable 
measures to encourage accountability and responsibility in small UAS 
operations, including restrictions on any unauthorized commercial or 
recreational operations over certain safety-sensitive locations, such 
as railroad facilities.
    Task Force: While the Task Force did not make a specific 
recommendation on encouraging accountability and responsible use of UAS 
outside the registration process, it asserted within its report that 
operator accountability and responsible use were its principal goals of 
registration. The NPRM did not request comment on this issue.
    IFR Requirement: Accountability and responsible sUAS operation 
along with identification of the aircraft owner are the desired 
outcomes for this rule. While commenters provided a number of 
recommendations for further action toward these goals that are outside 
of the scope of this rulemaking, the FAA found that one predominant 
recurring theme addressed education regarding safe sUAS operations. As 
described in the preamble discussion pertaining to education, the FAA 
agrees that education is a key component for reaching the agency's 
aircraft registration goals and is an overarching tenet in ensuring the 
safety of the NAS. The FAA will continue to evaluate these additional 
methods recommended by the commenters for encouraging safe and 
responsible use among sUAS operators for future guidance material and 
rulemaking.

M. Legal Implications of the Registration Requirement

    A number of comments were received to the Clarification/Request for 
Information regarding the legal implications of the registration 
requirement.
1. Comments addressing Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform 
Act of 2012
    Many commenters stated that the FAA's decision to require 
registration of model aircraft is in violation of section 336 of the 
FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Public Law 112-95, which 
stipulates that the FAA ``may not promulgate any rule or regulation 
regarding a model aircraft'' that meets certain criteria. Commenters 
pointed out that one such criterion is that the model aircraft be 
operated ``in accordance with a community-based set of Safety 
Guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based 
organization.'' Commenters stated that the AMA is one such 
organization, and that the FAA must therefore exempt AMA members from 
the registration requirement. Other commenters stated more generally 
that FAA must identify all nationwide community-based organizations and 
exempt their members from any rule or regulation (including 
registration) when the aircraft is operated in accordance with a 
community-based set of safety guidelines.

[[Page 78634]]

    The Competitive Enterprise Institute asserted that the FAA conceded 
in its interpretation of section 336 that ``a model aircraft operated 
pursuant to the terms of section 336 would potentially be excepted from 
a UAS aircraft rule,'' an interpretation that the commenter said 
``would logically lend itself to a UAS aircraft registration rule as 
well.'' This commenter accused the FAA of ignoring both the plain 
language of the statute and its own interpretation of it, and asked the 
FAA to explain how it has the jurisdiction to regulate small UAS 
operated by hobbyists.
    Several commenters found fault with the FAA's justification for 
requiring registration of model aircraft--i.e., that it is applying 
existing law that applies to all ``aircraft'' and not promulgating new 
regulations regarding model aircraft. The Mercatus Center at George 
Mason University asserted that the current proceeding ``relied quite 
directly on laws that by statute may not be used as justification for 
an expansion of the regulatory obligations of model aircraft 
operators;'' namely, its UAS integration mandate under the FAA 
Modernization and Reform Act. This commenter further asserted that if 
the FAA does not restart the process without references to that mandate 
there is a possibility that registration of non-commercial UAS will be 
overturned if challenged in court. An individual commenter stated that 
if, as the FAA asserts, the definition of model aircraft as 
``aircraft'' means that all existing federal aviation regulations 
retroactively apply to model aircraft, the congressional prohibition on 
regulating them would be pointless. This commenter further stated that 
the clear intent of Congress was to prohibit the FAA from regulating 
model aircraft at all, and that if Congress meant instead to apply the 
full array of existing aviation regulations to model aircraft, it would 
have said so. This commenter also asserted that, even if the FAA is 
correct that all existing aviation regulations apply to model aircraft, 
it is not acting consistently with that principle because it is picking 
only one of the many regulations that apply to manned aircraft and 
arbitrarily applying it to model aircraft. This commenter further 
asserted that this ``is the very epitome of arbitrary and capricious, 
and clearly shows that the FAA is being disingenuous when it claims it 
is merely applying existing regulations.'' This commenter went on to 
say that ``[t]he fact that the FAA finds it necessary to request public 
comments in a sort of expedited unofficial NPRM, followed by assembling 
a special Task Force (somewhat like an Advisory Rulemaking Committee 
(ARC) to determine what steps are necessary to implement the 
registration process, clearly reveals the FAA's proposal to be in fact 
a new regulation regarding model aircraft in direct contravention of 
[FAA Modernization and Reform Act] Sec. 336.''
    Another individual stated that the FAA is not being forthright in 
averring that its decision not to register model aircraft until now was 
``discretionary.'' This commenter expressed doubt that a regulatory 
document exists in which the agency explicitly stated that ``model 
aircraft need not be registered, as a discretionary exclusion from 49 
U.S.C. 44101,'' and that if such a document does exist it should have 
been referenced in the Clarification/Request for Information. This 
commenter further asserted that the absence of such a document destroys 
the premise of the ``clarification'' the FAA has now put forth.
    Two individual commenters challenged the agency's reliance on the 
NTSB ruling in Administrator v. Pirker (NTSB Order No. EA-5739), noting 
that the ruling only held that model aircraft qualify as ``aircraft'' 
as the term is used in 14 CFR 91.13(a), which prohibits careless and 
reckless operation.\42\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \42\ The commenter cited to Administrator v. Pirker, NTSB Order 
No. EA-5739 at 12 (Nov. 17, 2014).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Two individual commenters stated that the FAA's authority to pursue 
enforcement action against persons who endanger the safety of the NAS 
(under section 336(b) of Public Law 112-95) cannot reasonably be 
interpreted to mean the agency has the blanket authority to mandate 
registration of model aircraft.
    The FAA disagrees with the comments asserting that the registration 
of model aircraft is prohibited by section 336 of Public Law 112-95. 
While section 336 bars the FAA from promulgating new rules or 
regulations that apply only to model aircraft, the prohibition against 
future rulemaking is not a complete bar on rulemaking and does not 
exempt model aircraft from complying with existing statutory and 
regulatory requirements. As previously addressed, Public Law 112-95 
identifies model aircraft as aircraft and as such, the existing 
statutory aircraft registration requirements implemented by part 47 
apply.
    This action simply provides a burden-relieving alternative that 
sUAS owners may use for aircraft registration. Model aircraft operated 
under section 336 as well as other small unmanned aircraft are not 
required to use the provisions of part 48. Owners of such aircraft have 
the option to comply with the existing requirements in part 47 that 
govern aircraft registration or may opt to use the new streamlined, 
web-based system in part 48.
2. Comments Addressing Requirements Under the Administrative Procedure 
Act
    A number of commenters questioned the FAA's approach to rulemaking 
pertaining to small unmanned aircraft registration. Several commenters 
said the FAA does not have good cause to issue a rule without notice 
and comment. The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) stated that 
under section 553(b)(3)(B) of the APA, agency rulemakings are required 
to include a notice and comment period of at least 30 days unless ``the 
agency for good cause finds (and incorporates the finding and a brief 
statement of reasons therefor in the rules issued) that notice and 
public procedure thereon are impracticable, unnecessary, or contrary to 
public interest.'' Citing to a legal treatise on administration law, 
CEI asserted that the good cause exception ``is not an escape clause,'' 
and ``should be narrowly construed and only reluctantly countenanced,'' 
with ``the agency bear[ing] the burden of demonstrating the ground for 
good cause.'' CEI further asserted that notice and comment in this case 
is not ``impractical,'' because ``[i]mpracticality exists when the 
agency cannot both follow the notice-and-comment procedure and execute 
its statutory duty.'' CEI stated that in this case the FAA is arguably 
proceeding with a UAS registration mandate in direct contradiction of 
its statutory duty ``not [to] promulgate any rule or regulation 
regarding a model aircraft.'' CEI also stated that the notice and 
comment process cannot be said to be ``unnecessary,'' because a rule 
that mandates hobbyists register their model aircraft creates a 
substantial new burden on the public. Finally, CEI stated that notice 
and comment is not ``contrary to public interest.'' CEI claimed that, 
although the FAA will presumably argue that providing notice and 
comment would result in significant harm to the public interest by 
failing to immediately mitigate UAS safety risks that only mandatory 
registration can address, ``there is little evidence that registration 
will, on its own, do much of anything to mitigate UAS safety risk, 
which itself is likely very low relative to other aircraft safety 
risks, such as birds.''
    The Mercatus Center at George Mason University stated that ``agency 
inaction leading to perceived deadline pressure

[[Page 78635]]

does not constitute good cause to dispense with public notice and 
comment.'' \43\ The Mercatus Center asserted that a public notice-and-
comment period is necessary and in the public interest because any 
requirement to register UASs potentially adversely affects numerous 
non-commercial operators. The Mercatus Center further asserted that the 
issuance of a final rule without notice and comment opens up the 
registration requirement to reversal if challenged in court.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \43\ The commenter cited Air Transport Association of America v. 
Department of Transportation, 900 F.2d 369 (D.C. Cir. 1990 
(``Insofar as the FAA's own failure to act materially contributed to 
its perceived deadline pressure, the agency cannot now invoke the 
need for expeditious action as `good cause' to avoid the obligations 
of section 553(b)).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A number of individual commenters similarly asserted that the FAA 
has not presented any data to substantiate the need to proceed with 
this rulemaking on an emergency or expedited basis. Like CEI, these 
commenters pointed to a lack of data showing either that there is an 
increased safety risk that needs to be addressed or that registration 
will, on its own, adequately address that risk. Some commenters 
specifically found fault with FAA's reliance on increased number of UAS 
``incidents'' reported to the FAA by manned aircraft pilots. Several 
commenters noted that the AMA analyzed those reported ``incidents'' and 
found that out of the 764 reported records, only 27 (or 3.5%) were 
identified as a near mid-air collision, with nearly all of those 
involving government-authorized military drones.\44\ The commenters 
noted that most of the ``incidents'' have merely been sightings of UAS. 
One individual pointed out that the FAA has published no analysis of 
its own ``sightings'' data; nor has it disputed the AMA's analysis of 
that data. This individual also asserted that a doubling in the rate of 
UAS ``sightings'' in 2015 is consistent with the rate of growth of 
consumer small UAS, and is not cause for overreaction.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \44\ A few commenters provided a link to the AMA report. http://www.modelaircraft.org/gov/docs/AMAAnalysis-Closer-Look-at-FAA-Drone-Data_091415.pdf.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Another individual claimed that FAA statistics show that birds are 
far more of a threat to air traffic than toy helicopters, and that not 
one single incident of a toy model causing an accident has been 
reported, while bird strikes number over 7,000 a year. Several other 
commenters noted that there has only been one recorded collision 
between a manned aircraft and a model aircraft. One such individual 
stated that it was a well-known incident in which a biplane struck a 
large model airplane that was hovering over a runway at an air show. 
This individual further stated that even though that model airplane was 
larger than the vast majority of models most hobbyists fly, the biplane 
received only a minor dent to its wing. Another individual questioned 
whether the FAA has examined empirical evidence from the millions of 
model flight operations to determine if lack of compliance with the 
labeling requirement had any correlation to the frequency or severity 
of mishaps. Another individual pointed to a recent NTSB interpretation 
(NTSB-AS-2015-0001) that clarifies that ``model aircraft'' do not fall 
within the definition of unmanned aircraft for accident notification/
investigation purposes. Quoting that interpretation, this commenter 
stated that the NTSB ``has historically not investigated the rare 
occasions in which a model aircraft has cause serious injury or 
fatality,'' and clearly does not believe unregistered small UAS to be a 
significant threat to the NAS.
    A number of commenters characterized the registration requirement 
as a ``knee jerk'' reaction to a perceived problem based solely on 
anecdotal evidence, which will punish the many for the acts of a few. 
Other commenters said that any UAS-related incidents can easily be 
remedied by stricter enforcement of existing laws.
    In contrast to those commenters who claimed that the FAA does not 
have good cause to issue a rule without going through notice and 
comment rulemaking, Modovolate Aviation, LLC that the FAA does have 
good cause to issue a rule without notice and comment, and should 
therefore set up a simple database and registration interface 
immediately and issue an emergency rule requiring compliance. This 
commenter asserted that such authority comes from both the APA (5 
U.S.C. 553(b)(3)(B)) and the FAA's own rules (14 CFR 11.29(a)), and 
that the FAA's statements that the growing number of pilot reports of 
UAS sightings reveals an imminent problem and serves as an appropriate 
basis for such an ``emergency rule.'' This commenter also asserted that 
the FAA will not achieve its goals by engaging in another protracted 
rulemaking process that takes two years.
    In the preamble discussion of the agency's good cause for 
proceeding with an IFR, the agency explains its rationale for forgoing 
notice and comment prior to the effective date of this rulemaking and 
issuing this immediately effective IFR. The agency also notes that it 
is seeking comment on this rulemaking and may modify the rule based on 
comments received.
3. Comments Addressing Other Legal Issues With the Proposed 
Registration Requirement
    The Mercatus Center at George Mason University stated that under 
Executive Order 12866, a rule on non-commercial UAS registration may be 
economically significant and therefore require a cost-benefit analysis. 
The Mercatus Center claimed that past experience with national registry 
systems suggests that there will be dramatic implementation and 
compliance costs that the DOT may be systematically underestimating. 
The Mercatus Center further claimed that these costs will be 
exacerbated by factors such as fast UAS depreciation and replacement 
rates, difficulty of enforcing retroactive compliance, and the sheer 
volume and speed at which UASs are being produced, among other factors.
    Several other commenters also stated that the FAA needs to conduct 
cost-benefit analysis before proceeding with this rulemaking. For 
example, one individual stated that a cost benefit analysis ``based on 
a scientific collection of unbiased safety data'' should be conducted 
before any new registration program is put in place. This individual 
asserted that the FAA has not provided a convincing case that small UAS 
pose a safety risk to the NAS, or that that a registration program will 
be any more successful than an approach, such as the AMA's Safety Code, 
that requires owners to put their name and address on the aircraft. A 
few other individuals said the FAA needs to consider that a 
registration requirement may expose UAS owners to additional state-
imposed taxes and fees. Another individual pointed to the potential 
economic impact a registration requirement may have on small 
businesses. This individual asserted that the requirement may impact 
small hobby shops, as well as major distributors like Horizon Hobby and 
Hobbico, because people will not want to register their aircraft with 
the FAA and will therefore choose to participate in other consumer 
hobbies that do not require registration with the government. The News 
Media Coalition stated that any registration process established by the 
FAA ``must avoid placing undue burden on the First Amendment right to 
gather and disseminate news.''
    Several individual commenters stated that a registration 
requirement is an invasion of privacy. EPIC discussed its concerns 
about the privacy and civil liberty risks posed by the use of UAS in

[[Page 78636]]

the United States, and asserted that the enhanced surveillance 
capabilities of UAS raise significant Fourth Amendment 
implications.\45\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \45\ EPIC made reference to its 2012 petition to the FAA to 
undertake a rulemaking to establish privacy regulations prior to the 
deployment of commercial drones in the national airspace, and its 
lawsuit against the FAA for denying that petition. EPIC also made 
reference to its testimony before Congress regarding the need to 
adopt comprehensive legislation to limit drone surveillance in the 
United States.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Consistent with comments regarding Executive Order 12866, the FAA 
has completed an economic analysis of this rulemaking. The economic 
analysis for this rulemaking can be found in the docket with the IFR.
    Regarding comments pertaining to free speech and privacy, the 
agency clarifies that this IFR does not provide operating restrictions. 
Rather, this rulemaking is intended only to establish a streamlined 
approach for small unmanned aircraft registration.

N. Alternatives to Registration

    The FAA received a number of comments recommending alternatives to 
a requirement of registration.
    Clarification/Request for Information: Several commenters suggested 
a requirement for small UAS operators to become members of a community-
based organization, instead of a registration requirement. One 
commenter recommended that an organization similar to the USPA (United 
States Parachute Association) be formed to manage UAS training, 
licensing, and registration. Another commenter said it would make more 
sense for the DOT and FAA to mandate that small UAS pilots join any 
community-based organization that follows a set of standardized rules. 
Several commenters recommended that the FAA specifically require model 
aircraft operators to become AMA members. One commenter suggested that 
AMA be put in charge of the registration of small UAS users, with the 
registration database maintained by the AMA independently, or with a 
subsidy from the DOT/FAA. Several other commenters, however, opposed 
the idea of requiring AMA membership or allowing the AMA to be any part 
of the official registration requirement. One individual stated that 
registration is an inherently governmental function that should not be 
ceded to any dues collecting organization. This commenter pointed out 
that neither the Experimental Aircraft Association nor the Aircraft 
Owners and Pilots Association register manned aircraft. Another 
individual said the AMA should not be part of the registration process 
because it is ``a privately run optional insurance consortium for 
hosting a common airfield,'' not an authority regarding model aircraft 
design, standards, and practices. The Drone User Group Network said 
that the AMA ``while a venerable association, does not have the 
interests of responsible and dedicated UAS operators at the core of its 
mission.'' Another individual listed a number of concerns about the 
AMA's safety programming (e.g., failure to enforce their own 
requirement to have AMA number and/or address in their member's 
aircraft) and said that he is not comfortable with the AMA being 
permitted to manage the inherently governmental function of 
registration.
    Several commenters who opposed a registration requirement said the 
FAA should review the FCC's experience with the explosive growth of 
mobile Citizen Band radios some years ago, which ultimately resulted in 
abandoning the licensing requirement for those radios. One commenter 
recommended that driver's licenses be used for registration, instead of 
creating a new registry system. Another commenter said recreational 
operators could be required to carry a current driver's license and a 
safety card, which would be issued after the operator watched an FAA 
video on proper flying procedures.
    A number of commenters said the FAA needs to clarify what it will 
consider to be a UAS for purposes of the registration requirement. Some 
commenters asserted that relying on the FAA's definition of 
``aircraft'' is problematic because that definition can be construed to 
mean any device which takes to air, including, for example, a Frisbee, 
a paper airplane, a foam airplane, or a balsa wood rubber-band powered 
airplane. As discussed above, many commenters urged the agency to 
exclude traditional model aircraft from the definition of UAS for 
purposes of the registration requirement. Some of those commenters 
questioned why model aircraft would be included in a registration 
requirement while other types of ``aircraft,'' such as ultralights, 
model rockets and kites, would not. Several commenters pointed out that 
ultralights can weigh up to 249 pounds, carry up to 5 gallons of 
flammable fuel, carry an unlicensed pilot, be unregistered, and still 
operate in the NAS (in many, but not all areas).
    Several individual commenters questioned whether the agency can 
handle the registration of millions of recreational UAS. One commenter 
noted that the registration database could become overloaded and 
unmanageable if every person registers every model aircraft they 
purchase or receive--many of which will not last past a single flight--
but then fail to notify the FAA when a model is lost, destroyed, or 
sold. Also pointing to the short life span of most small UAS, another 
commenter similarly said the registration system will become 
overwhelmed if recreational users are required to register and re-
register each model aircraft they obtain. Another commenter said that 
requiring UAS owners to renew their registration will ``complicate 
everything'' and lead to people involuntarily breaking the law when 
they forget to re-register their UAS. Several commenters wondered how 
the registration process will be funded.
    Several commenters addressed the effect of a registration 
requirement on innovation and growth. The National Association of 
Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) encouraged the FAA and the Task 
Force to consider how the registration system will be integrated into 
or used in conjunction with the commercial development of UAS. 
Specifically, NAMIC said the FAA and Task Force should consider how 
industries that are critical to UAS development will depend on or 
require UAS registration. NAMIC asserted that ``streamlining 
requirements for UAS registration would certainly be in the interest of 
avoiding duplication, minimizing burdens, and best protecting 
innovation and encouraging growth in the UAS industry. Similarly, TIA 
said the FAA must implement UAS regulations that do not inhibit 
advancement but rather spur growth and inspire future innovators. The 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign urged the FAA and DOT to 
consider alternatives to a registration (which is said is likely to 
prove both burdensome and ineffective) because ``onerous regulations 
applied to UAS research will stifle innovation and put the United 
States at a competitive disadvantage.'' An individual commenter 
similarly said that regulation ``will increase costs, drive people from 
the activity, and retard innovation.'' One individual commenter argued 
that model aircraft ``represent a huge employment, technological, and 
economic opportunity for our country (and world), and we cannot afford 
to squash this potential with more laws.'' A group of academics noted 
that traditional model aircraft have inspired generations of our 
scientists, engineers, and inventors. A number of other commenters also 
expressed concern that a registration requirement will

[[Page 78637]]

discourage young people from becoming involved in model aviation which, 
in turn, will discourage them from entering careers in STEM-related 
fields.
    A commenter who had been issued an exemption under section 333 of 
Public Law 112-95 questioned whether he or she would have to re-
register their UAS, and what the time-frame for that would be. Another 
commenter questioned how the registration requirement would apply to 
UAS that are flown infrequently or not at all. Another individual 
commenter questioned what the process would be for removing non-
functional UAS from the registration system. Another commenter working 
overseas wondered whether he would have to register his UAS to be 
permitted to operate it during visits to the United States.
    Delair-Tech recommended the following registration process for 
manufactured UAS: (1) Each UAS produced is assigned an aircraft type 
designator (assigned by ICAO) and a unique serial number (assigned by 
the manufacturer); (2) the user manual for each UAS instructs its owner 
to turn on the UAS and its ground control station/software within 
internet connectivity coverage; (3) the ground control software detects 
an unregistered UAS and opens a registration window, which prompts the 
owner to enter their contact information (including phone number); (4) 
the registration information is transmitted to the national 
registration system, which sends a verification code to the owner via 
text message; (5) the owner enters the code through the ground control 
software and then the registration system verifies the code and sends a 
registration number to the ground control station; (6) the ground 
control software programs the registration number into the UAS, which 
enables the owner to fly the UAS. As an alternative to using the ground 
control software to connect directly to the national registration 
system, Delair-Tech suggested the owner be given the URL of the 
registration system, through which the owner would input contact 
information and receive a verification code. The owner would also 
receive the registration number through the web application, which they 
would then input into the UAS through the ground control software.
    An individual commenter suggested that as an alternative to issuing 
an expedited registration rule the agency issue a temporary, 
immediately effective rule mandating point-of-sale distribution of 
agency materials summarizing the operational restrictions for model 
aircraft. This commenter stated that acting promptly to require 
retailers to communicate the core regulatory message would more 
directly address the fear of improperly operated UAS becoming a safety 
risk as more are sold to hobbyists. The commenter also stated that such 
materials largely already exist and the requirement for distributing 
the information could be satisfied, particularly by online retailers, 
by a check-box acknowledgment or an emailed link to existing FAA 
educational Web sites. The commenter cited legal authority that would 
support an exercise of authority to compel commercial speech when it is 
in the service of a significant public interest.
    RILA urged the establishment of a preemptive federal standard for 
UAS to allow for uniformity, consistency, and alleviate potential 
burdens on both retailers and consumers if states are left to legislate 
potentially inconsistent UAS safety.
    Some commenters said an education program, geo-fencing, and strict 
enforcement of the safety rules would be more effective than requiring 
registration of these aircraft.
    A few commenters advocated for a tiered licensing process, allowing 
operators who have qualified for higher tiers (e.g., through additional 
training or testing) to operate UAS with advanced capabilities. Several 
commenters said that FAA should regulate UAS operators in the same way 
the FCC licenses amateur (ham) radio operators, and one commenter also 
said that retailers of certain UAS should require proof of FCC 
licensing before purchase.
    The Mercatus Center at George Mason University stated that the DOT 
and FAA should define a threshold ``that liberalize most small UASs, 
requiring registrations for only the largest and highest-powered UASs, 
while continuing to focus on integrating all nongovernmental UASs 
within a framework based on the principles of permissionless 
innovation.'' This commenter went on to say that, instead of an 
``impractical'' registration scheme, the FAA should adopt Transport 
Canada's model and require simple online notification for commercial 
operations within a middle weight class. Other commenters said that 
operators should have to abide by the AMA safety code.
    The South Florida UAV Consortium recommended that UASs be 
restricted to a limited operation until the operator completes a 
training course and receives a code to unlock the software to allow it 
to fly its full range.
    One commenter recommended two categories of licenses--one for 
commercial products that can be purchased off the shelf (with 
limitations on the degree to which they can be modified) and one for 
home-built or substantially modified aircraft. The commenter asserted 
that this second category of licenses ``would address the impossibility 
of implementing a per-device registration scheme in a world of imported 
electronics and homebrew experimentation.'' Within the two categories 
of licenses, the commenter recommended different classes based on the 
available power carried on the aircraft.
    IFR Requirement: The FAA disagrees with commenters who stated that 
all small unmanned aircraft should be registered with the AMA and that 
AMA should be exclusively responsible for the registry. The FAA is 
specifically directed by statute to develop and maintain an aircraft 
registry. Accordingly, the FAA cannot abdicate its responsibility to 
AMA or any other organization outside the FAA.
    Some commenters on this topic addressed the need for a clear 
definition of which aircraft require registration and which do not; the 
FAA has addressed that definition in an earlier section. In response to 
the comments about capacity issues and streamlining registration, the 
web-based registration system established by this rule will allow the 
Registry to better accommodate the aircraft registration required for 
owners of small unmanned aircraft.

O. Comments Beyond the Scope

    The nature of the FAA's request for comment in the Clarification/
Request for Information resulted in some commenters providing 
information that did not fall within the twelve comment areas. The FAA 
is summarizing those comments that were outside the scope of the twelve 
questions in this section.
    A few commenters remarked on the make-up of the Task Force. One 
individual stated that the presence of Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy, 
among other major corporations, ``gives the impression, as face value, 
of being politically driven by major corporations to restrict tax 
paying citizens in this country from using their airspace and the 
enjoyment of flying their model aircraft in favor of a major 
corporation.'' This individual asserted that these corporations would 
prefer to eliminate model aviation in order to have open skies to 
operate their delivery service. Two other commenters similarly said 
that the UAS industry representatives on the Task Force ``have a 
penchant for regulations and may actually benefit from such regulation 
given that they have the resources to cover the cost required by such 
regulation and that

[[Page 78638]]

inevitably such regulation will limit free enterprise.'' These 
commenters questioned why the FAA did not invite grass-roots small UAS 
organizations, such as the Small UAV Coalition.
    A commenter suggested reducing risk to aviation by permitting local 
authorities to utilize a transmitter to electronically disable UAS that 
are being flown illegally. The commenter also suggested developing a 
means to report illegal UAS operation. Another commenter said that law 
enforcement should be able to confiscate UAS that are flown illegally. 
The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, Minnesota 
Department of Transportation, and other commenters suggested requiring 
UAS operators to purchase liability insurance. Additionally, NetMoby 
and other commenters remarked that FAA should impose significant fines 
and other civil or criminal penalties on operators who fail to register 
or fly in a dangerous or illegal manner.
    The Toy Industry Association urged FAA to implement an IFR instead 
of a final rule at this point. The commenter said that an interim rule 
would permit the agency and UAS Task Force to create a pilot 
registration system that would include only UAS that have ``high risk'' 
capabilities, and study this system before implementing a final rule. 
Other commenters, including the News Media Coalition, encouraged FAA to 
finalize the small UAS rule proposed for commercial users to provide an 
example of clear guidelines for all users.
    Skyward, Inc. recommended that FAA develop a more comprehensive 
approach to UAS management, including technical standards for a UAS 
system for the NAS, and said that FAA should review NASA's UAS Traffic 
Management program and the Department of Homeland Security's STIX and 
TAXII standards as examples of technical standards development. Skyward 
said that, for example, a comprehensive UAS system could include 
``detection capabilities that are able to detect and localize non-
participating or malfunctioning aircraft as part of expanded airspace 
radar and surveillance systems.''
    Many commenters expressed concern about the expedited timeframe in 
which the DOT and the FAA plan to implement the registration system. 
UAVUS said the plan to create a registration system this holiday season 
is ``overly ambitious, and could add to the confusion created by the 
absence of the FAA's final rulemaking for the commercial use of small 
UASs.'' RILA stated its appreciation for the agency's goal of 
increasing safe and responsible UAS use, but asserted that the 
logistical challenges in implementing such a system within the current 
expedited timeframe ``make doing so responsibly and coherently 
impossible.'' Given the expedited timeframe, RILA, NRF, and TIA 
encouraged the FAA to consider the use of an interim final rule instead 
of a direct final rule. NRF alternatively suggested a pilot program to 
evaluate the operational needs of a registration system.
    The National Agricultural Aviation Association (NAAA), Colorado 
Agricultural Aviation Association, and Alaska Legislative Task Force on 
Unmanned Aircraft Systems recommended that UAS should be required to be 
more visible to manned aircraft to avoid collision by requiring UAS to 
be equipped with strobe lights and painted conspicuous colors.
    Two commenters suggested that as an alternative to registering 
individual UAS, that owners be required to register their transmitters. 
One of those commenters asserted that the transmitter registration 
would provide an easy way to identify operators without having to 
physically locate them or their UAS because transmitters broadcast a 
radio signal that can be picked up by anyone in the vicinity. This 
commenter further asserted that relying on markings on the aircraft 
will do nothing to identify a problem unless the UAS crashes, but, as 
technology advances, transmitters can transmit a personal ID that can 
be read with receiver equipment. A few other individual commenters 
recommended a requirement to register the flight controller instead of 
the aircraft.

P. Miscellaneous

    The FAA has updated Sec.  91.203(a)(2) to allow the Certificate of 
Aircraft Registration issued under part 48 to satisfy the requirements 
of that paragraph.
    The FAA has also made the following technical amendments to part 
47: The Department of Homeland Security currently exercises the 
oversight responsibilities of the former Immigration and Naturalization 
Service. Part 47 has been updated to reflect this change.
    The agency has also clarified that the reference to ``armed 
forces'' includes only those armed forces of the United States.

VIII. Section-by-Section Discussion of the Interim Final Rule

    In part 1, definitions and abbreviations, definitions for ``model 
aircraft,'' ``small unmanned aircraft,'' ``small unmanned aircraft 
system,'' and ``unmanned aircraft'' are added.
    In part 45, identification and registration marking, Sec.  45.1 is 
revised to add a specific cross-reference to 14 CFR part 47 to indicate 
that the marking requirements of part 45 only relate to aircraft 
registered under part 47.
    In part 47, aircraft registration, in Sec.  47.2 the definition of 
``resident alien'' is revised to remove the reference to the 
Immigration and Naturalization Service and replace it with a reference 
to the Department of Homeland Security. The term ``U.S. citizen'' is 
revised to read ``Citizen of the United States or U.S. citizen'' to 
conform to other uses of this term.
    Section 47.3 is revised to make clear that, when stating that no 
person may operate an aircraft that is eligible for registration under 
49 U.S.C. 44101-44104, Armed Forces refers to Armed Forces of the 
United States.
    Section 47.7 is revised to remove the reference to the Immigration 
and Naturalization Service and replace it with a reference to the 
Department of Homeland Security.
    The FAA is adding new 14 CFR part 48, registration and markings for 
small unmanned aircraft.
    Section 48.1 provides the applicability for the part. It states 
that small unmanned aircraft eligible for registration in the United 
States must be registered and identified in accordance with either the 
registration and identification requirements in part 48, or the 
registration requirements in part 47 and the identification and 
registration marking requirements in subparts A and C of part 45. 
Section 48.1 also explains that small unmanned aircraft intended to be 
operated outside of the territorial airspace of the United States, or 
registered through a trust or voting trust, must be registered in 
accordance with part 47 and satisfy the identification and registration 
marking requirements of subparts A and C of part 45.
    Section 48.5 provides the compliance dates for small unmanned 
aircraft used exclusively as model aircraft, and the compliance dates 
for small unmanned aircraft used as other than model aircraft.
    Section 48.10 provides definitions of ``Citizen of the United 
States or U.S. citizen,'' ``Registry,'' and ``resident alien.'' These 
are the same definitions found in part 47.
    Section 48.15 provides that no person may operate a small unmanned 
aircraft that is eligible for registration under 49 U.S.C. 44101-44103 
unless the owner has registered and marked the aircraft in accordance 
with the requirements of

[[Page 78639]]

part 48; the aircraft weighs 0.55 pounds or less on takeoff, including 
everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft; or 
the aircraft is an aircraft of the Armed Forces of the United States.
    Section 48.20 provides the criteria for eligibility of the small 
unmanned aircraft for registration.
    Section 48.25 describes the requirements for applicants wishing to 
register a small unmanned aircraft using part 48. Applicants must 
provide the required information, and must meet other ownership 
requirements listed in the section.
    Section 48.30 provides the fees for small unmanned aircraft 
registration.
    Section 48.100 describes information applicants must submit when 
registering a small unmanned aircraft intended to be used as other than 
a model aircraft, and the information applicants must submit when 
registering a small unmanned aircraft intended to be used exclusively 
as a model aircraft.
    Section 48.105 requires small unmanned aircraft owners to maintain 
current information in the registration system.
    Section 48.110 provides the Certificate of Aircraft Registration 
information for small unmanned aircraft intended to be used other than 
as model aircraft. It provides the effective date of the Certificate, 
information regarding registration renewal, and describes events 
affecting the effectiveness of the Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration.
    Section 48.115 provides the Certificate of Aircraft Registration 
information for small unmanned aircraft intended to be used exclusively 
as model aircraft. It provides the effective date of the Certificate, 
information regarding registration renewal, and describes events 
affecting the effectiveness of the Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration.
    Section 48.120 discusses circumstances in which a small unmanned 
aircraft registration is invalid. Circumstances include when the 
aircraft is registered in a foreign country; the applicant is not the 
owner, except when the applicant registers on behalf of an owner who is 
under 13 years of age; the applicant is not eligible to submit an 
application under part 48; or the interest of the applicant in the 
aircraft was created by a transaction that was not entered into in good 
faith, but rather was made to avoid (with or without the owner's 
knowledge) compliance with 49 U.S.C. 44101-44103.
    Section 48.125 explains that for those persons who do not meet the 
citizenship requirements for U.S. registration, the certificate issued 
under part 48 constitutes a recognition of ownership.
    Section 48.200 contains general provisions for small unmanned 
aircraft marking.
    Section 48.205 provides the requirements for the display and 
location of the unique identifier.
    In part 91, general operating and flight rules, Sec.  91.203 is 
revised to reference Certificates of Aircraft Registration provided in 
part 48.
    In part 375, navigation of foreign civil aircraft within the United 
States, Sec.  375.11 is clarified to note that this includes a small 
unmanned aircraft.
    Section 375.38 authorizes owners of foreign civil aircraft that are 
small unmanned aircraft used exclusively as model aircraft to operate 
within the U.S. and requires owners of aircraft engaged in such 
operations to complete the part 48 registration process prior to 
operation.

IX. Regulatory Notices and Analyses

A. Regulatory Evaluation

    Changes to Federal regulations must undergo several economic 
analyses. First, Executive Order 12866 and Executive Order 13563 direct 
that each Federal agency shall propose or adopt a regulation only upon 
a reasoned determination that the benefits of the intended regulation 
justify its costs. Second, the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Pub. 
L. 96-354) requires agencies to analyze the economic impact of 
regulatory changes on small entities. Third, the Trade Agreements Act 
(Pub. L. 96-39 as amended) prohibits agencies from setting standards 
that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of the United 
States. In developing U.S. standards, the Trade Agreements Act requires 
agencies to consider international standards and, where appropriate, 
that they be the basis of U.S. standards. Fourth, the Unfunded Mandates 
Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4) requires agencies to prepare a 
written assessment of the costs, benefits, and other effects of 
proposed or final rules that include a Federal mandate likely to result 
in the expenditure by State, local, or tribal governments, in the 
aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more annually 
(adjusted for inflation with base year of 1995). This portion of the 
preamble summarizes the FAA's analysis of the economic impacts of this 
IFR. We suggest readers seeking greater detail read the full regulatory 
evaluation, a copy of which we have placed in the docket for this 
rulemaking.
    In conducting these analyses, FAA has determined this IFR has 
benefits that justify its costs, and is a ``significant regulatory 
action'' as defined in section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866 because it 
raises novel policy issues contemplated under that executive order. The 
rule is also ``significant'' as defined in DOT's Regulatory Policies 
and Procedures. The IFR will have a positive economic impact on a 
substantial number of small entities, will not create unnecessary 
obstacles to international trade, and will not impose an unfunded 
mandate on state, local, or tribal governments, or on the private 
sector. These analyses are summarized below.

Total Benefits and Costs

    There are problems arising from the rapid proliferation of small 
unmanned aircraft and these problems are occurring more frequently. 
Sales projections show the number of small unmanned aircraft continuing 
to increase dramatically, and thus addressing the problem is urgent. 
Registration provides an immediate and direct opportunity to educate 
new users of unmanned aircraft who may have no knowledge of the system 
in which they are operating, and thus, no knowledge of how to operate 
safely within it. Registration and marking of small unmanned aircraft 
will provide owners education regarding operating in the NAS and will 
promote accountability in those operations, at a minimal cost to 
operators and the government.
    Currently aircraft registration is a paper-based process defined in 
part 47. Under current statutory and regulatory policy, the FAA could 
require UAS model aircraft owners,\46\ at a significant cost, to 
register their small unmanned aircraft under part 47 using the legacy 
paper-based system. Commercial owners \47\ that have been granted 
exemptions or certificates of authorization to operate small unmanned 
aircraft in the NAS have been required to register their aircraft under 
part 47. Also, the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM would require 
non-model aircraft owners (e.g., commercial and public owners of sUAS) 
to register their aircraft under part 47 as outlined in the NPRM. The 
agency expects to finalize that rulemaking in 2016.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \46\ for purposes of the economic analysis of this IFR, the term 
``modeler'' means the owner of a small unmanned aircraft that 
satisfies the definition of ``model aircraft'' added to 14 CFR 1.1
    \47\ For purposes of the economic analysis of this IFR, the term 
``commercial owners'' or ``non-modeler'' means the owner of a small 
unmanned aircraft used for non-model purposes.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 78640]]

    The FAA has used agency discretion in the past by not requiring 
owners of small unmanned aircraft intended to be used as model aircraft 
in accordance with section 336 of Public Law 112-95 to register their 
aircraft although as noted commercial operators of small unmanned 
aircraft have been required to register their aircraft. Due to the 
rapid increase in sUAS for hobby use (and soon at much greater volumes 
for commercial purposes), the FAA is creating an alternative simple, 
web-based registration process to significantly reduce the time to 
register small unmanned aircraft. In addition, to ease the burden to 
modelers this regulation will allow those owners to register once and 
use the same identification number for all their aircraft, instead of 
registering each of their small unmanned aircraft separately.
    In order to implement the new streamlined, web-based system 
described in this IFR, the FAA will incur costs to develop, implement, 
and maintain the system. Small UAS operators will require time to 
register and mark their aircraft, and that time has a cost. The total 
of government and registrant resource cost for small unmanned aircraft 
registration and marking under this new system is $56 million ($46 
million present value at 7 percent) through 2020.
    In evaluating the impact of this rule, we compare the costs and 
benefits of the IFR to a baseline consistent with existing practices: 
for modelers, the exercise of discretion by FAA (not requiring 
registration), and for non-modelers, registration via part 47 in the 
paper-based system. We also calculate the costs of the rejected 
alternative: requiring modelers and non-modelers alike to register 
aircraft via the paper-based system.
    In order to compare the costs of this rule to this baseline, the 
FAA estimated the costs of registering sUAS aircraft under the web-
based registration system resulting from this part 48 rulemaking (the 
IFR). The two populations, modelers and non-modelers, have slightly 
different processes as noted in this evaluation. In all of these 
scenarios, sUAS weighing 0.55 pounds or less are excluded from 
registration. In these analyses, we estimate the private-sector 
compliance costs and government costs for each scenario.

                             Table 5--Summary of Quantified Costs and Benefits ($M)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Total cost
              Year                 Calendar year --------------------------------   Difference        7% P.V.
                                                     Baseline           IFR
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
0...............................            2015           $ 0.0           $ 5.5          -$ 5.5         -$ 5.47
1...............................            2016            21.3             6.3            15.0           14.00
2...............................            2017            86.5             8.3            78.1           68.25
3...............................            2018            89.0            12.1            76.9           62.77
4...............................            2019            91.6            11.6            80.0           61.03
5...............................            2020            94.2            11.8            82.5           58.79
                                                 ---------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................  ..............           382.5            55.6           327.0          259.4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: numbers may not add due to rounding.

Who is potentially affected by this rule?

    All owners of small unmanned aircraft which weigh more than 0.55 
pounds and less than 55 pounds on takeoff.

Assumptions and Data

    The benefit and cost analysis for the regulatory evaluation is 
based on the following factors/assumptions. Technology, markets, and 
uses for small unmanned aircraft are evolving rapidly and there is a 
high degree of uncertainty how the future will unfold and so the FAA 
requests comments (supported with data) on these assumptions.
     The period of the regulatory impact analysis begins in 
2015 (denoted Year 0) and ends in 2020 (denoted Year 5).
     This analysis considers the benefits and costs of 
requiring the registrations of sUAS weighing less than 55 pounds and 
more than 0.55 pounds on takeoff.

We use a seven percent discount rate for the benefits as prescribed by 
OMB in Circular A-4.

Population and Forecast

     Most of these assumptions, unless otherwise noted, were 
based on interviews with manufacturers, retailers, and other industry 
experts.
     Estimates of small unmanned aircraft registrations are 
based on projections of sUAS sales for the period of analysis. A sales 
forecast was developed based on use cases and likely adoption rates by 
commercial application and consumer electronic s-curve analysis for 
non-commercial applications. This forecast was then adjusted to obtain 
the number of modelers and the number of non-modeler sUAS units.
     Two basic populations are estimated: (1) Model aircraft 
owners and their sUAS units and (2) the number of commercial/public 
owners and their sUAS units. In this document, the term ``modeler'' 
means the owner of a small unmanned aircraft that satisfies the 
statutory definition of ``model aircraft'' now codified in 14 CFR 1.1. 
The term ``commercial owner'' or ``non-modeler'' means the owner of a 
small unmanned aircraft used for non-model aircraft purposes.
     For non-modelers, we assume that on average, all sUAS fail 
within a year and are replaced in the next year. For modelers we use 
the assumption that an average of ten percent of the modelers' sUAS 
survive into a second year, because they are used less intensively. 
These assumptions are based on manufacturers' information.
     Unmanned aircraft weighing 0.55 pounds or less are 
excluded from the registrations forecast. We assume 20 percent of the 
sales forecast will be unmanned aircraft weighing 0.55 pounds or less. 
This analysis is based on an examination of the current unit size 
distribution. While there may be some incentive for manufacturers to 
increase the number of aircraft produced below the registration size 
cut-off, the FAA believes the inherent limitations of the weight and 
available technology will not drive large shifts during analysis 
period. SUAS flown exclusively indoors need not be registered. FAA 
assumes most sUAS over 0.55 pounds will be flown outdoors and must be 
registered.
     The entire existing fleet of model aircraft and 2015 
fourth quarter sales are assumed to be registered in Period 0 or 2015.
     Most non-modelers will register their aircraft after the 
FAA has finalized the sUAS Operation and Certification

[[Page 78641]]

NPRM, anticipated to go into effect in June 2016.
     On average, model aircraft owners are assumed to own an 
average fleet size of 1.5 sUAS.
     80 percent of model aircraft owners replace each aircraft 
as it is destroyed. (In other words, 20 percent of modelers drop out of 
the hobby each year).
     On average, non-model sUAS owners are assumed to own 2 
aircraft at a time. Every year all of the non-model sUAS owners go 
through the registration system replacing their two aircraft.

Time

     The estimated time to register an aircraft via the part 47 
(paper-based system) system is 30 minutes.\48\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \48\ See Supporting Statement, OMB 2120-0042 Aircraft 
Registration Including Assignment and Cancellation of U.S. 
Identification Marks
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     The estimated time for a model aircraft owner to establish 
an online account and register an aircraft, under this rulemaking, is 
estimated to take 5 minutes; a registration renewal for these owners is 
also estimated to take 5 minutes. The bulk of this time includes 
reading and acknowledging basic safety information presented during the 
registration process.
     The estimated time for a non-modeler registrant to 
establish an online account and register two small unmanned aircraft is 
7 minutes; 5 minutes to establish an account plus 1 minute per small 
unmanned aircraft.
     The estimated time for a non-modeler registrant to de-
register each aircraft is three minutes.
     The time for an owner to mark an aircraft with its 
registration number is de minimis.
     The analysis assumes that all sUAS owners will comply with 
the registration processes considered in the regulatory analysis (part 
47 baseline system and the web-based systems resulting from this part 
48 rulemaking).

Costs

     The FAA assigns an hourly value of $19.13 per hour for the 
value of time for model aircraft registrants and $24.89 per hour for 
the value of time for non-modeler registrants in 2015. These hourly 
values are in 2013 dollars adjusted to reflect the growth of real 
changes in median household income over the analysis interval. \49\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \49\ The hourly opportunity cost for modelers is based on the 
mid-point estimate of the range values as specified in Section 1.2.3 
of FAA's Treatment of Time: Economic Values for Evaluation of FAA 
Investment and Regulatory Decisions (http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/policy_guidance/benefit_cost/). The hourly 
opportunity cost for non-modelers is estimated as the median gross 
compensation which is the sum of median hourly wage and an estimate 
of hourly benefits. This estimate is reported in DOT guidance titled 
Revised Departmental Guidance on Valuation of Travel Time in 
Economic Analysis (Washington DC, 2015).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     FAA estimates that its costs are $22 for the registration 
of an aircraft in the current paper-based system. This estimate is 
based on an internal cost model developed by FAA's Civil Aviation 
Registry for managerial purposes.
     FAA cost information for the streamlined, web-based 
registrations was developed based on cost models and FAA data. Costs 
for the web-based system include startup costs, costs to provide 
interfaces for retailers and manufacturers, the cost of providing for 
public search function based on the unique identifier, the cost of 
providing for law enforcement access, and maintenance costs, whether 
incurred by FAA personnel or FAA's contractors. We do not include costs 
for manufacturers or retailers to provide information to the 
registration system or to change packaging as those are voluntary 
actions. FAA expects that retailers will make point-of-sale interfaces 
available in the future.
     As is standard practice, FAA does not include costs of 
enforcement of this rule.

Safety

     We assume this regulation does not affect the levels of 
FAA manpower or resources expended on UAS safety education and outreach 
but it will allow the FAA to target those efforts, making those on-
going efforts more effective.
     We do not attempt to quantify any safety benefit from this 
regulation. (See ``Qualitative Benefits'' section in the Regulatory 
Evaluation for further discussion).

Fees

     The fee to register an aircraft under part 48, as well as 
in the current paper-based system in part 47, is $5. This fee is 
required by statute and is based on an estimate of the costs of the 
system and services associated with aircraft registration. If actual 
costs for the web-based system are known before a final rule is issued, 
we will adjust the fee accordingly in the final rule. If not, we will 
continue to monitor and determine the actual costs and adjust the fee 
in a subsequent rulemaking. FAA notes that under part 47, the 
registration fee using the paper-based system is $5 per aircraft. FAA 
has begun a rulemaking to update this fee based on current costs. 
(Aircraft Registration and Airmen Certification Fees, RIN 2120-AK37).
     We have estimated the registration fee for the new web-
based system to be $5, based on the projected costs to build and 
maintain the system and provide the registration service. Model 
aircraft owners will pay $5 to register and will be assigned a unique 
identifier that can be marked on the owner's entire fleet of model 
aircraft. Model aircraft owners will be required to renew their 
registration every 3 years and pay a $5 fee. There would be no charge 
for de-registration. Fees will be adjusted based on actual costs.
     Non-modeler aircraft owners will also pay a $5 fee to 
establish an online account and register an initial aircraft in the new 
web-based system. They will also pay a $5 fee to add each additional 
sUAS to their existing account. Aircraft must be re-registered after 
three years, but as noted above, FAA expects very few, if any, sUAS to 
last that long. Non-modeler aircraft owners will not pay a fee to de-
register a sUAS.
     Government fees and taxes are considered transfers and, by 
Office of Management and Budget guidance, transfers are not considered 
a societal cost. These transfers are estimated separately from the 
costs and benefits of this IFR. The FAA acknowledges fees and transfers 
can create incentives for behavior change.

Costs of This Rule

                                                                  Table 6--Cost Summary
                                                                          [$M]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     Total cost                            Total costs 7% P.V.
                                                           Calendar  -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Year                               year                    Interim       Rejected                    Interim       Rejected
                                                                        Baseline    final rule    alternative     Baseline    final rule    alternative
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
0......................................................         2015        $ 0.0        $ 5.5          $ 44.2        $ 0.0        $ 5.5          $ 44.2
1......................................................         2016         21.3          6.3            65.1         19.9          5.9            60.9

[[Page 78642]]

 
2......................................................         2017         86.5          8.3           140.6         75.5          7.3           122.8
3......................................................         2018         89.0         12.1           155.7         72.6          9.9           127.1
4......................................................         2019         91.6         11.6           173.9         69.9          8.8           132.7
5......................................................         2020         94.2         11.8           195.9         67.2          8.4           139.6
                                                        ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total..............................................  ...........        382.5         55.6           775.4        305.1         45.7           627.3
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Totals may not add due to rounding.

Benefits of This Rule

    In this section, we discuss beneficial impacts to the non-modeler 
from the cost savings of this rule over registering sUAS aircraft using 
the baseline system. The cost savings offsets, by an order of 
magnitude, the new costs associated with modelers and non-modelers 
registering aircraft in the streamlined Web-based system.
    The baseline column in Table 7 shows the total costs for non-
modelers to register their aircraft using the paper-based system, while 
modelers do not register their aircraft. The IFR column shows the total 
costs to FAA and registrants (modelers and non-modelers) of the new 
web-based system. Table 7 shows the significant cost savings of 
subtracting the costs of registration between the baseline system from 
the registration costs imposed by this rulemaking.

                       Table 7--Cost Savings of the Baseline Versus the Part 48 Rulemaking
                                                      [$M]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            Total Cost
              Year                 Calendar year --------------------------------   Difference        7% P.V.
                                                     Baseline           IFR
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
0...............................            2015           $ 0.0           $ 5.5          -$ 5.5          -$ 5.5
1...............................            2016            21.3             6.3            15.0            14.0
2...............................            2017            86.5             8.3            78.1            68.3
3...............................            2018            89.0            12.1            77.9            62.8
4...............................            2019            91.6            11.6            80.0            61.0
5...............................            2020            94.2            11.8            82.5            58.8
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total.......................  ..............           382.5            55.6           327.0           259.4
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note: numbers may not add due to rounding.

    This IFR also brings qualitative benefits. Registrants will be 
required to read and acknowledge some basic safety information during 
the registration process. The email and mailing addresses provided 
during the registration process provides further opportunity for future 
targeted safety education and information.
    This rulemaking will improve the education of recreational sUAS 
owners and operators by making them aware of the regulatory and safety 
requirements affecting their activities. At the same time, it will 
provide essential educational tools to the legions of new and current 
flyers that are taking to the skies, so that they can use their 
unmanned aircraft safely.
    The requirement to mark the aircraft with the registration number 
links the owner to the aircraft; providing accountability should an 
accident, incident, or regulatory violation occur. This IFR also has 
the potential to benefit sUAS owners. In the event of a mistake where 
the aircraft flies away from the owner, the registration marking 
provides a means for the aircraft to be returned to its owner.
    Requiring aircraft registration and display of marking information 
often has a direct and immediate impact on safety-related issues. For 
example, aircraft registration and marking provides the FAA and law 
enforcement agencies an invaluable tool during inspections and 
investigations of inappropriate or prohibited behavior, as well as 
during emergency situations. One of the FAA's goals is to provide the 
FAA and local law enforcement agencies the immediate ability to quickly 
connect individuals to their aircraft with the fewest number of steps 
possible.

B. Regulatory Flexibility Determination

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-354) (RFA) 
establishes ``as a principle of regulatory issuance that agencies shall 
endeavor, consistent with the objectives of the rule and of applicable 
statutes, to fit regulatory and informational requirements to the scale 
of the businesses, organizations, and governmental jurisdictions 
subject to regulation. To achieve this principle, agencies are required 
to solicit and consider flexible regulatory proposals and to explain 
the rationale for their actions to assure that such proposals are given 
serious consideration.'' The RFA covers a wide-range of small entities, 
including small businesses, not-for-profit organizations, and small 
governmental jurisdictions.
    The Regulatory Flexibility Act analysis requirements are limited to 
rulemakings for which the agency ``is required by section 553 . . . or 
any other law, to publish a general notice of proposed rulemaking for 
any proposed rule.'' 5 U.S.C. 603(a).In this instance, the agency has 
determined under section 553(b)(3)(B) of the APA that there is good 
cause for forgoing notice and comment for this rulemaking. Thus,

[[Page 78643]]

compliance with the RFA is not required in this instance.
    Nonetheless, the FAA believes that this IFR will have a positive 
economic impact on a substantial number of entities for the following 
reasons. Individuals using small unmanned aircraft exclusively as model 
aircraft are not small business entities. For owners of aircraft used 
for commercial or non-model purposes, the $5 registration fee per small 
unmanned aircraft under this IFR is the same as what was proposed under 
the sUAS Operation and Certification NPRM. However this IFR reduces the 
burden for these small entities to register their small unmanned 
aircraft as compared to the current paper-based FAA registration 
system. Thus, due to the relieving nature of this IFR, there will be a 
positive economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

C. International Trade Impact Assessment

    The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (Public Law 96-39), as amended by 
the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (Public Law 103-465), prohibits 
Federal agencies from establishing standards or engaging in related 
activities that create unnecessary obstacles to the foreign commerce of 
the United States. Pursuant to these Acts, the establishment of 
standards is not considered an unnecessary obstacle to the foreign 
commerce of the United States, so long as the standard has a legitimate 
domestic objective, such as the protection of safety, and does not 
operate in a manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. The 
statute also requires consideration of international standards and, 
where appropriate, that they be the basis for U.S. standards. The FAA 
has assessed the potential effect of this IFR and determined that it 
has a legitimate domestic objective--the protection of safety--and does 
not operate in a manner that excludes imports that meet this objective. 
Further, it is not an unnecessary obstacle because currently, there is 
no foreign registry that the FAA can recognize and the other 
requirements (compliance with provisions of part 48) impose no greater 
burden than that which is imposed on U.S. citizens.

D. Unfunded Mandates Assessment

    Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Public Law 
104-4) requires each Federal agency to prepare a written statement 
assessing the effects of any Federal mandate in a proposed or final 
agency rule that may result in an expenditure of $100 million or more 
(in 1995 dollars) in any one year by State, local, and tribal 
governments, in the aggregate, or by the private sector; such a mandate 
is deemed to be a ``significant regulatory action.'' The FAA currently 
uses an inflation-adjusted value of $155.0 million in lieu of $100 
million. This IFR does not contain such a mandate; therefore, the 
requirements of Title II of the Act do not apply.

E. Paperwork Reduction Act

    The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)) requires 
that the FAA consider the impact of paperwork and other information 
collection burdens imposed on the public. According to the 1995 
amendments to the Paperwork Reduction Act (5 CFR 1320.8(b)(2)(vi)), an 
agency may not collect or sponsor the collection of information, nor 
may it impose an information collection requirement unless it displays 
a currently valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number.
    This action contains the following new information collection. As 
required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3507(d)), 
the FAA has submitted this information collection to OMB for its 
review.
    Summary: Persons owning small unmanned aircraft, whether intended 
to be used as model aircraft or as other than model aircraft, are 
required to register those aircraft with the FAA pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 
44101-44103. Persons may register small unmanned aircraft pursuant to 
the requirements of 14 CFR part 48 as an alternative to the 
registration requirements of 14 CFR part 47. Aircraft registration is 
necessary to ensure personal accountability among all users of the 
national airspace system. Aircraft registration also allows the FAA and 
law enforcement agencies to address non-compliance by providing the 
means by which to identify an aircraft's owner and operator.
    Use: Information will be used to identify small unmanned aircraft 
owners and to provide educational information regarding use of small 
unmanned aircraft in the national airspace system.
    Respondents (including number of): See Table 8.
    Frequency: As needed. Persons will register small unmanned aircraft 
prior to operation and, if they continue to own the aircraft, will 
renew registration every three years thereafter.
    Annual Burden Estimate: For the modelers and non-modelers, the 
following table shows the total number of modelers, their time, and 
their costs to fill out the on-line system and register plus the time 
to re-register and for the non-modelers, the number of total 
respondents (small unmanned aircraft), their time to fill out the 
online system and register, the time to register each of their small 
unmanned aircraft, and their time de-register their aircraft after they 
retire their aircraft. There are no costs associated with this 
information collection aside from the time spent to complete 
registration.

                                    Table 8--Average Annual Burden Estimates
                                              [Years 0-5 (6 Years)]
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                            Number of
                 Category                   responses    Minutes per             Frequency              Hours
                                               (M)         response                                     (000)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Modeler
    Owner Registration...................         0.57            5    1 time......................         47.8
    Owner Re-Registration................         0.16            5    Every 3 years...............         12.9
Non-Modeler
    Small Unmanned Aircraft Registration.         1.82            3.5  1 Time......................        121.9
    Small Unmanned Aircraft De-                   1.66            3    1 Time......................         69.0
     Registration.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Rows may not sum due to rounding.

    The agency is soliciting comments to--
    (1) Evaluate whether the proposed information requirement is 
necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency, 
including whether the information will have practical utility;

[[Page 78644]]

    (2) Evaluate the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden;
    (3) Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to 
be collected; and
    (4) Minimize the burden of collecting information on those who are 
to respond, including by using appropriate automated, electronic, 
mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms 
of information technology.
    Individuals and organizations may send comments on the information 
collection requirement to the address listed in the ADDRESSES section 
at the beginning of this preamble by January 15, 2016. Comments also 
should be submitted to the Office of Management and Budget, Office of 
Information and Regulatory Affairs, Attention: Desk Officer for FAA, 
New Executive Office Building, Room 10202, 725 17th Street NW., 
Washington, DC 20503.

F. International Compatibility and Cooperation

    In keeping with U.S. obligations under the Convention on 
International Civil Aviation, it is FAA policy to conform to 
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Standards and 
Recommended Practices to the maximum extent practicable. In the 
instance of this rulemaking, the FAA does not intend to comply with 
international standards. The registration and marking requirements in 
this IFR apply only to operations within the United States. The agency 
will file differences as is appropriate.

G. Environmental Analysis

    FAA Order 1050.1F identifies FAA actions that are categorically 
excluded from preparation of an environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement under the National Environmental Policy 
Act in the absence of extraordinary circumstances. The FAA has 
determined this rulemaking action qualifies for the categorical 
exclusion identified in paragraph 5-6.6f and involves no extraordinary 
circumstances.

X. Executive Order Determinations

A. Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    The FAA has analyzed this immediately adopted final rule under the 
principles and criteria of Executive Order 13132, Federalism. The 
agency determined that this action will not have a substantial direct 
effect on the States, or the relationship between the Federal 
Government and the States, or on the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government, and, 
therefore, does not have Federalism implications.

B. Executive Order 13211, Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy 
Supply, Distribution, or Use

    The FAA analyzed this immediately adopted final rule under 
Executive Order 13211, Actions Concerning Regulations that 
Significantly Affect Energy Supply, Distribution, or Use (May 18, 
2001). The agency has determined that it is not a ``significant energy 
action'' under the executive order and it is not likely to have a 
significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use of 
energy.

C. Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation

    Executive Order 13609, Promoting International Regulatory 
Cooperation, (77 FR 26413, May 4, 2012) promotes international 
regulatory cooperation to meet shared challenges involving health, 
safety, labor, security, environmental, and other issues and reduce, 
eliminate, or prevent unnecessary differences in regulatory 
requirements. The FAA has analyzed this action under the policy and 
agency responsibilities of Executive Order 13609, Promoting 
International Regulatory Cooperation. The FAA has analyzed this action 
under the policies and agency responsibilities of Executive Order 
13609, and has determined that this action would have no effect on 
international regulatory cooperation.

XI. How To Obtain Additional Information

A. Rulemaking Documents

    An electronic copy of a rulemaking document may be obtained via the 
Internet by--

Searching the Federal eRulemaking Portal (http://www.regulations.gov);
Visiting the FAA's Regulations and Policies Web page at http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/ or
Access the Government Publishing Office's Web page at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/.

    Copies may also be obtained by sending a request (identified by 
notice, amendment, or docket number of this rulemaking) to the Federal 
Aviation Administration, Office of Rulemaking, ARM-1, 800 Independence 
Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591, or by calling (202) 267-9677.

B. Comments Submitted to the Docket

    Comments received may be viewed by going to http://www.regulations.gov and following the online instructions to search the 
docket number for this action. Anyone is able to search the electronic 
form of all comments received into any of the FAA's dockets by the name 
of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if 
submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.).

C. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act

    The Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) of 
1996 requires FAA to comply with small entity requests for information 
or advice about compliance with statutes and regulations within its 
jurisdiction. A small entity with questions regarding this document, 
may contact its local FAA official, or the person listed under the FOR 
FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT heading at the beginning of the preamble. 
To find out more about SBREFA on the Internet, visit http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/sbre_act/.

List of Subjects

14 CFR Part 1

    Air transportation.

14 CFR Part 45

    Aircraft, Signs and symbols.

14 CFR Part 47

    Aircraft, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

14 CFR Part 48

    Aircraft, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Signs and 
symbols, Small unmanned aircraft, Unmanned aircraft.

14 CFR Part 91

    Air traffic control, Aircraft, Airmen, Airports, Aviation safety, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

14 CFR Part 375

    Administrative practice and procedure, Aircraft, Foreign relations, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

The Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration amends Chapter I of Title 14, Code of Federal 
Regulations, as follows:

PART 1--DEFINITIONS AND ABBREVIATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 1 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 40113, 44701.


0
2. In Sec.  1.1, add the definitions of ``Model aircraft'', ``Small 
unmanned aircraft'', ``Small unmanned aircraft

[[Page 78645]]

system'', and ``Unmanned aircraft'' in alphabetical order to read as 
follows:


Sec.  1.1  General definitions.

* * * * *
    Model aircraft means an unmanned aircraft that is:
    (1) Capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere;
    (2) Flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the 
aircraft; and
    (3) Flown for hobby or recreational purposes.
* * * * *
    Small unmanned aircraft means an unmanned aircraft weighing less 
than 55 pounds on takeoff, including everything that is on board or 
otherwise attached to the aircraft.
    Small unmanned aircraft system (small UAS) means a small unmanned 
aircraft and its associated elements (including communication links and 
the components that control the small unmanned aircraft) that are 
required for the safe and efficient operation of the small unmanned 
aircraft in the national airspace system.
* * * * *
    Unmanned aircraft means an aircraft operated without the 
possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the 
aircraft.
* * * * *

PART 45--IDENTIFICATION AND REGISTRATION MARKING

0
3. The authority citation for part 45 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 40103, 40113-40114, 44101-
44105, 44107-44111, 44504, 44701, 44708-44709, 44711-44713, 44725, 
45302-45303, 46104, 46304, 46306, 47122.

0
4. In Sec.  45.1, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  45.1  Applicability.

* * * * *
    (b) Nationality and registration marking of aircraft registered in 
the United States in accordance with part 47.

PART 47--AIRCRAFT REGISTRATION

0
5. The authority citation for part 47 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  4 U.S.T. 1830; Public Law 108-297, 118 Stat. 1095 
(49 U.S.C. 40101 note, 49 U.S.C. 44101 note); 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 
106(g), 40113-40114, 44101-44108, 44110-44113, 44703-44704, 44713, 
45302, 45305, 46104, 46301.


0
6. Revise Sec.  47.2 to read as follows:


Sec.  47.2  Definitions.

    The following are definitions of terms used in this part:
    Citizen of the United States or U.S. citizen means one of the 
following:
    (1) An individual who is a citizen of the United States or one of 
its possessions.
    (2) A partnership each of whose partners is an individual who is a 
citizen of the United States.
    (3) A corporation or association organized under the laws of the 
United States or a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or 
possession of the United States, of which the president and at least 
two-thirds of the board of directors and other managing officers are 
citizens of the United States, which is under the actual control of 
citizens of the United States, and in which at least 75 percent of the 
voting interest is owned or controlled by persons that are citizens of 
the United States.
    Registry means the FAA, Civil Aviation Registry, Aircraft 
Registration Branch.
    Resident alien means an individual citizen of a foreign country 
lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States as an 
immigrant in conformity with the regulations of the Department of 
Homeland Security (8 CFR Chapter 1).

0
7. In Sec.  47.3, revise paragraph (b)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  47.3  Registration required.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (3) Is an aircraft of the Armed Forces of the United States.
* * * * *

0
8. In Sec.  47.7, Revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  47.7  United States citizens and resident aliens.

* * * * *
    (b) Resident aliens. An applicant for aircraft registration under 
49 U.S.C. 44102 who is a resident alien must furnish a representation 
of permanent residence and the applicant's alien registration number 
issued by the Department of Homeland Security.
* * * * *

0
9. Add part 48 to read as follows:

PART 48--REGISTRATION AND MARKING REQUIREMENTS FOR SMALL UNMANNED 
AIRCRAFT

Subpart A--General

Sec.
48.1 Applicability.
48.5 Compliance dates.
48.10 Definitions.
48.15 Requirement to register.
48.20 Eligibility for registration.
48.25 Applicants.
48.30 Fees.
Subpart B--Certificates of Aircraft Registration for Small Unmanned 
Aircraft
48.100 Application.
48.105 Requirement to maintain current information.
48.110 Registration: Persons intending to use small unmanned 
aircraft for purposes other than as model aircraft.
48.115 Registration: Individuals intending to use the small unmanned 
aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft.
48.120 Invalid registration.
48.125 Foreign civil aircraft.
Subpart C--Aircraft Marking
48.200 General.
48.205 Display and location of unique identifier.

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 40101, 40103, 40113-40114, 
41703, 44101-44103, 44105-44106, 44110-44113, 45302, 45305, 46104, 
46301, 46306.

Subpart A--General


Sec.  48.1  Applicability.

    (a) This part provides registration and identification requirements 
for small unmanned aircraft that are part of a small unmanned aircraft 
system as defined in Sec.  1.1 of this chapter.
    (b) Small unmanned aircraft eligible for registration in the United 
States must be registered and identified in accordance with either:
    (1) The registration and identification requirements in this part; 
or
    (2) The registration requirements in part 47 and the identification 
and registration marking requirements in subparts A and C of part 45.
    (c) Small unmanned aircraft intended to be operated outside of the 
territorial airspace of the United States, or registered through a 
trust or voting trust, must be registered in accordance with subparts A 
and B of part 47 and satisfy the identification and registration 
marking requirements of subparts A and C of part 45.


Sec.  48.5  Compliance dates.

    (a) Small unmanned aircraft used exclusively as model aircraft. For 
small unmanned aircraft operated by the current owner prior to December 
21, 2015, compliance with the requirements of this part or part 47 is 
required no later than February 19, 2016. For all other small unmanned 
aircraft, compliance with this part is required prior to operation of 
the small unmanned aircraft.
    (b) Small unmanned aircraft used as other than model aircraft. 
Small unmanned aircraft owners authorized to conduct operations other 
than model aircraft operations must register the small unmanned 
aircraft in accordance

[[Page 78646]]

with part 47 of this chapter. Beginning March 31, 2016, small unmanned 
aircraft operated as other than model aircraft may complete aircraft 
registration in accordance with this part.


Sec.  48.10  Definitions.

    For purposes of this part, the following definitions apply:
    Citizen of the United States or U.S. citizen means one of the 
following:
    (1) An individual who is a citizen of the United States or one of 
its possessions.
    (2) A partnership each of whose partners is an individual who is a 
citizen of the United States.
    (3) A corporation or association organized under the laws of the 
United States or a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or 
possession of the United States, of which the president and at least 
two-thirds of the board of directors and other managing officers are 
citizens of the United States, which is under the actual control of 
citizens of the United States, and in which at least 75 percent of the 
voting interest is owned or controlled by persons that are citizens of 
the United States.
    Registry means the FAA, Civil Aviation Registry, Aircraft 
Registration Branch.
    Resident alien means an individual citizen of a foreign country 
lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States as an 
immigrant in conformity with the regulations of the Department of 
Homeland Security (8 CFR Chapter 1).


Sec.  48.15  Requirement to register.

    No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft that is eligible 
for registration under 49 U.S.C. 44101-44103 unless one of the 
following criteria has been satisfied:
    (a) The owner has registered and marked the aircraft in accordance 
with this part;
    (b) The aircraft weighs 0.55 pounds or less on takeoff, including 
everything that is on board or otherwise attached to the aircraft; or
    (c) The aircraft is an aircraft of the Armed Forces of the United 
States.


Sec.  48.20  Eligibility for registration.

    A small unmanned aircraft may be registered under 49 U.S.C. 44103 
and under this part only when the aircraft is not registered under the 
laws of a foreign country and is--
    (a) Owned by a U.S. citizen;
    (b) Owned by an individual citizen of a foreign country lawfully 
admitted for permanent residence in the United States;
    (c) Owned by a corporation not a citizen of the United States when 
the corporation is organized and doing business under the laws of the 
United States or a State within the United States, and the aircraft is 
based and primarily used in the United States; or
    (d) An aircraft of--
    (1) The United States Government; or
    (2) A State, the District of Columbia, a territory or possession of 
the United States, or a political subdivision of a State, territory, or 
possession.


Sec.  48.25  Applicants.

    (a) To register a small unmanned aircraft in the United States 
under this part, a person must provide the information required by 
Sec.  48.100 to the Registry in the form and manner prescribed by the 
Administrator. Upon submission of this information, the FAA issues a 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration to that person.
    (b) A small unmanned aircraft must be registered by its owner using 
the legal name of its owner, unless the owner is less than 13 years of 
age. If the owner is less than 13 years of age, then the small unmanned 
aircraft must be registered by a person who is at least 13 years of 
age.
    (c) In accordance with 49 U.S.C. 44103(c), registration is not 
evidence of aircraft ownership in any proceeding in which ownership of 
an unmanned aircraft by a particular person is in issue.
    (d) In this part, ``owner'' includes a buyer in possession, a 
bailee, a lessee of a small unmanned aircraft under a contract of 
conditional sale, and the assignee of that person.


Sec.  48.30  Fees.

    (a) The fee for issuing or renewing a Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration for aircraft registered in accordance with Sec.  48.100(a) 
is $5.00 per aircraft.
    (b) The fee for issuing or renewing a Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration for aircraft registered in accordance with Sec.  48.100(b) 
is $5.00 per certificate.
    (c) Each application for and renewal of a Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration must be accompanied by the fee described in paragraphs (a) 
and (b), as applicable, paid to the Federal Aviation Administration 
through the web-based aircraft registration system, or in another 
manner if prescribed by the Administrator.

Subpart B--Certificates of Aircraft Registration for Small Unmanned 
Aircraft


Sec.  48.100  Application.

    (a) Required information: Persons intending to use the small 
unmanned aircraft as other than a model aircraft. Each applicant for a 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration issued under this part must submit 
all of the following information to the Registry:
    (1) Applicant name and, for an applicant other than an individual, 
the name of the authorized representative applying for a Certificate of 
Aircraft Registration.
    (2) Applicant's physical address and, for an applicant other than 
an individual, the physical address for the authorized representative. 
If the applicant or authorized representative does not receive mail at 
their physical address, a mailing address must also be provided.
    (3) Applicant's email address or, for applicants other than 
individuals, the email address of the authorized representative.
    (4) The aircraft manufacturer and model name.
    (5) The aircraft serial number, if available.
    (6) Other information as required by the Administrator.
    (b) Required information: Individuals intending to use the small 
unmanned aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft. Each applicant for a 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration issued under this part must submit 
all of the following information to the Registry:
    (1) Applicant name.
    (2) Applicant's physical address and if the applicant does not 
receive mail at their physical address, a mailing address must also be 
provided.
    (3) Applicant's email address.
    (4) Other information as required by the Administrator.
    (c) Provision of information. The information identified in 
paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section must be submitted to the 
Registry through the Web-based small unmanned aircraft registration 
system in a form and manner prescribed by the Administrator.
    (d) Issuance of Certificate of Aircraft registration. The FAA will 
issue a Certificate of Aircraft Registration upon completion of the 
application requirements provided in paragraph (a) or (b) of this 
section as applicable.


Sec.  48.105  Requirement to maintain current information.

    (a) The holder of a Certificate of Aircraft Registration must 
ensure that the information provided under Sec.  48.100 remains 
accurate.
    (b) The holder of a Certificate of Aircraft Registration must 
update the information using the web-based small unmanned aircraft 
registration system within 14 calendar days of the following:

[[Page 78647]]

    (1) A change in the information provided under Sec.  48.100.
    (2) When aircraft registration requires cancellation for any reason 
including sale or transfer, destruction, or export.


Sec.  48.110  Registration: Persons intending to use small unmanned 
aircraft for purposes other than as model aircraft.

    (a) Certificate of Aircraft Registration. A Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration issued in accordance with Sec.  48.100 for aircraft used 
for purposes other than as model aircraft constitutes registration only 
for the small unmanned aircraft identified on the application.
    (b) Effective date of registration. An aircraft is registered when 
the applicant receives a Certificate of Aircraft Registration for the 
specific aircraft. The effective date of registration is shown by the 
date of issue on the Certificate of Aircraft Registration issued for 
the aircraft.
    (c) Registration renewal. A Certificate of Aircraft registration 
issued under this part expires 3 years after the date of issue unless 
it is renewed.
    (1) The holder of a Certificate of Aircraft Registration must renew 
the Certificate by verifying, in a form and manner prescribed by the 
Administrator, that the information provided in accordance with Sec.  
48.100 of this subpart is accurate and if it is not, provide updated 
information. The verification may take place at any time within the six 
months preceding the month in which the Certificate of Aircraft 
registration expires.
    (2) A certificate issued under this paragraph expires three years 
from the expiration date of the previous certificate.
    (d) Other events affecting effectiveness of Certificate. Each 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration issued by the FAA under this 
subpart is effective, unless registration has ended by reason of having 
been revoked, canceled, expired, or the ownership is transferred, until 
the date upon which one of the following events occurs:
    (1) Subject to the Convention on the International Recognition of 
Rights in Aircraft when applicable, the aircraft is registered under 
the laws of a foreign country.
    (2) The small unmanned aircraft is totally destroyed or scrapped.
    (3) The holder of the Certificate of Aircraft Registration loses 
U.S. citizenship.
    (4) Thirty days have elapsed since the death of the holder of the 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration.
    (5) The owner, if an individual who is not a citizen of the United 
States, loses status as a resident alien, unless that person becomes a 
citizen of the United States at the same time.
    (6) The owner is a corporation other than a corporation which is a 
citizen of the United States and one of the following events occurs:
    (i) The corporation ceases to be lawfully organized and doing 
business under the laws of the United States or any State thereof; or
    (ii) The aircraft was not operated exclusively within the United 
States during the period of registration under this part.


Sec.  48.115  Registration: Individuals intending to use small unmanned 
aircraft exclusively as a model aircraft.

    (a) Certificate of Aircraft Registration: A Certificate of Aircraft 
Registration issued in accordance with Sec.  48.100 for small unmanned 
aircraft used exclusively as model aircraft constitutes registration 
for all small unmanned aircraft used exclusively as model aircraft 
owned by the individual identified on the application.
    (b) Effective date of registration. An aircraft is registered when 
the applicant receives a Certificate of Aircraft Registration. The 
effective date of registration is shown by the date of issue on the 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration issued under this part.
    (c) Registration renewal. A Certificate of Aircraft registration 
issued under this part expires 3 years after the date of issue unless 
it is renewed.
    (1) The holder of a Certificate of Aircraft Registration must renew 
the Certificate by verifying, in a form and manner prescribed by the 
Administrator, that the information provided in accordance with Sec.  
48.100(b) and (c) of this part is accurate and if it is not, provide 
updated information. The verification may take place at any time within 
the six months preceding the month in which the Certificate of Aircraft 
registration expires.
    (2) A certificate issued under this paragraph expires three years 
from the expiration date of the previous certificate.
    (d) Other events affecting effectiveness of Certificate. Each 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration issued by the FAA under this part 
is effective, unless registration has ended by reason of having been 
revoked, canceled or expired, or until the date upon which one of the 
following events occurs:
    (1) The holder of the Certificate of Aircraft Registration loses 
U.S. citizenship.
    (2) Thirty days have elapsed since the death of the holder of the 
Certificate of Aircraft Registration.
    (3) The owner, if an individual who is not a citizen of the United 
States, loses status as a resident alien, unless that person becomes a 
citizen of the United States at the same time.


Sec.  48.120  Invalid registration.

    The registration of a small unmanned aircraft is invalid if, at the 
time it is made--
    (a) The aircraft is registered in a foreign country;
    (b) The applicant is not the owner, except when the applicant 
registers on behalf of an owner who is under 13 years of age;
    (c) The applicant is not eligible to submit an application under 
this part; or
    (d) The interest of the applicant in the aircraft was created by a 
transaction that was not entered into in good faith, but rather was 
made to avoid (with or without the owner's knowledge) compliance with 
49 U.S.C. 44101-44103.


Sec.  48.125  Foreign civil aircraft.

    Except for corporations eligible to register under Sec.  48.20(c), 
the FAA will issue a recognition of ownership to persons required to 
comply with the provisions of this part pursuant to an authorization to 
operate issued under part 375 of this title. The recognition of 
ownership does not have the effect of U.S. aircraft registration.

Subpart C--Aircraft Marking


Sec.  48.200  General.

    (a) No person may operate a small unmanned aircraft registered in 
accordance with this part unless the aircraft displays a unique 
identifier in accordance with the requirements of Sec.  48.205 of this 
subpart.
    (b) A unique identifier is one of the following:
    (1) The registration number issued to an individual or the 
registration number issued to the aircraft by the Registry upon 
completion of the registration process provided by this part; or
    (2) If authorized by the Administrator and provided with the 
application for Certificate of Aircraft Registration under Sec.  48.100 
of this part, the small unmanned aircraft serial number.


Sec.  48.205  Display and location of unique identifier.

    (a) The unique identifier must be maintained in a condition that is 
legible.
    (b) The unique identifier must be affixed to the small unmanned 
aircraft by any means necessary to ensure that it will remain affixed 
for the duration of each operation.
    (c) The unique identifier must be readily accessible and visible 
upon

[[Page 78648]]

inspection of the small unmanned aircraft. A unique identifier enclosed 
in a compartment is readily accessible if it can be accessed without 
the use of any tool.

PART 91--GENERAL OPERATING AND FLIGHT RULES

0
10. The authority citation for part 91 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 106(f), 106(g), 1155, 40101, 40103, 40105, 
40113, 40120, 44101, 44111, 44701, 44704, 44709, 44711, 44712, 
44715, 44716, 44717, 44722, 46306, 46315, 46316, 46504, 46506-46507, 
47122, 47508, 47528-47531, 47534, articles 12 and 29 of the 
Convention on International Civil Aviation (61 Stat. 1180), (126 
Stat. 11).


0
11. In Sec.  91.203, revise paragraph (a)(2) to read as follows:


Sec.  91.203  Civil aircraft: Certifications required.

    (a) * * *
    (2) An effective U.S. registration certificate issued to its owner 
or, for operation within the United States, the second copy of the 
Aircraft registration Application as provided for in Sec.  47.31(c), a 
Certificate of Aircraft registration as provided in part 48, or a 
registration certification issued under the laws of a foreign country.
* * * * *

PART 375--NAVIGATION OF FOREIGN CIVIL AIRCRAFT WITHIN THE UNITED 
STATES

0
12. The authority citation for part 375 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  49 U.S.C. 40102, 40103, and 41703.


0
13. Revise Sec.  375.11 to read as follows:


Sec.  375.11  Other Foreign Civil Aircraft.

    A foreign civil aircraft, including unmanned aircraft as defined in 
Sec.  1.1 of this title, other than those referred to in Sec.  375.10 
may be navigated in the United States only when:
    (a) The operation is authorized by the Department under the 
provisions of this part, and
    (b) The aircraft complies with any applicable airworthiness 
standards of the Federal Aviation Administration for its operation.

0
14. Add Sec.  375.38 to subpart D to read as follows:


Sec.  375.38  Other foreign civil aircraft: Small unmanned aircraft 
operated exclusively as model aircraft.

    Foreign civil aircraft that are small unmanned aircraft used 
exclusively as model aircraft may be operated in the United States only 
when the individual:
    (a) Completes the registration process in accordance with 
Sec. Sec.  48.30, 48.100(b) and (c), 48.105, and 48.115 of this title;
    (b) Identifies the aircraft in accordance with the aircraft marking 
requirements in Sec. Sec.  48.200 and 48.205 of this title; and
    (c) Complies with the requirements of Sec. 336 of Pub. L. 112-95 
(Feb. 14, 2012).

    Issued under the authority of 49 U.S.C. 106(f), 41703, 44101-
44103, in Washington, DC on December 14, 2015.
Anthony R. Foxx,
Secretary of Transportation.
Michael P. Huerta,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2015-31750 Filed 12-15-15; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4910-13-P