FAA Makes Major Drone ID Marking Change

StaffFirst Class, Flight Safety, Law Enforcement Resources, News5 Comments

All operators must now place their registration number on the outside of the drone.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has posted a new rule in the Federal Register requiring small drone owners to display the FAA-issued registration number on an outside surface of the aircraft. Owners and operators may no longer place or write registration numbers in an interior compartment as allowed previously. The rule is effective on February 23, 2019. The markings must be in place for any flight after that date.

When the FAA first required registration of small drones in 2015, the agency mandated that the registration marking be readily accessible and maintained in readable condition. The rule granted some flexibility by permitting the drone marking label to be placed in an enclosed compartment, such as a battery case if it could be accessed without the use of tools.

Subsequently, law enforcement officials and the FAA’s interagency security partners have expressed concerns about the risk a concealed explosive device might pose to first responders upon opening a compartment to find a drone’s registration number. The FAA believes this action will enhance safety and security by allowing a person to view the unique identifier directly without handling the drone, and to presumably alarm them if the drone registration marking label is not visible.

This interim final rule does not change the original acceptable methods of external marking, nor does it specify a particular external surface on which the registration number must be placed. The requirement is that it can be seen upon visual inspection of the aircraft’s exterior.

The FAA has issued this requirement as an Interim Final Rule — a rule that takes effect while also inviting public comment. The FAA issues interim final rules when delaying implementation of the rule would be impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to the public interest. In this case, the agency has determined the importance of mitigating the risk to first responders outweighs the minimal inconvenience this change may impose on small drone owners and justifies implementation without a prior public comment period.

The FAA will consider comments from the public on this Interim Final Rule, and will then review any submissions to determine if the provisions of the ultimate Final Rule should be changed. The 30-day comment period will end on March 15, 2019. To submit comments, go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for “RIN 2120-AL32.”

As Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao promised last month, today the FAA also posted proposed new rules to let drones fly routinely at night and over people, and to further integrate them safely into the nation’s airspace. The comment period for these proposals begins tomorrow and will end April 15.

5 Comments on “FAA Makes Major Drone ID Marking Change”

      1. Staff


        In addition to the previous reply. The following link will direct you to the Law Enforcement Toolkit page which also includes links to download and print items such as Law Enforcement Pocket Cards with FAA hotline numbers for Law Enforcement Officers.

        Download and print Law Enforcement Pocket Card

        Law Enforcement and Public Safety Drone Card

        Public Safety and Law Enforcement Toolkit

        FAA Contacts for Law Enforcement

        Law Enforcement Assistance Program (LEAP) is your point of contact for federal, state, local, tribal, territorial and international law enforcement agencies.

  1. Tim Miller


    You indicate that those that fly RC airplanes are also required to register if we fly “over people”.
    I belong to a RC club sanctioned by AMA. We have a designated runway and pilot stations and
    therefore do not fly “over people”. This rule is enforced at our club. Please explain to me why
    those of us flying in designated AMA sanctioned fields and not over people are required to
    register and pay for a designated label.

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