As tens of thousands of recreational users of aerial drones register their devices with the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency expects to issue a final regulation “in late spring” for non-hobbyist drones, including those that construction firms use, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says.
So far, the FAA has authorized, based on application reviews, more than 3,000 commercial drone operators for land surveying and other uses, Huerta said in a Jan. 6 speech. “While we have streamlined the current authorization process, the [coming] rule will greatly decrease the need for case-by-case approvals, increasing operators ease of access to the National Airspace System,” he said, according to a prepared text.
Huerta also said that, as of Jan. 6, about 181,000 small recreational drones were registered with the FAA. That figure represents the agency’s first official count for the sign-up program, which it unveiled Dec. 14.
FAA has set a Feb. 19 registration deadline for hobbyists’ drones. It applies to unmanned aircraft weighing from 0.55 lbs. to 55 lbs. FAA will refund the $5 registration fees for those who sign up by Jan. 20.
FAA released an updated iOS version of its B4UFLY smartphone application for drone users and rolled out a beta-test Android version.