New FAA law will require drones to display registration

Agent pilots and hobbyists alike will have to comply to the fast-tracked law by Feb. 25

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Visually powerful, aerial drone footage helps sellers showcase a home’s exterior, and it’s especially valuable when the surrounding landscape, such as a coastline or significant acreage, is a major selling point.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governs the use of private “UAVs,” or unmanned aerial vehicles (sometimes referred to as unmanned aerial systems), because of the risk they pose to commercial aircraft and municipal utilities, among other potential hazards.

The FAA also manages a national licensing system, and last week, in conjunction with the Department of Transportation, the FAA announced it is fast-tracking a one-time interim law that mandates licensed operators prominently display a “unique identifier” on all vehicles. In essence, a vehicle registration number.

Published under the title, “External Marking Requirement for Small Unmanned Aircraft,” the rule was announced on Feb. 13 and goes into effect only 12 days later, on Feb. 25. The law’s summary reads as follows:

This interim final rule requires small unmanned aircraft owners to display the unique identifier assigned by the FAA upon completion of the registration process (registration number) on an external surface of the aircraft. Small unmanned aircraft owners are no longer permitted to enclose the FAA-issued registration number in a compartment.

The FAA’s webpage specifically states that a more overt registration number will make it easier and safer for first responders reacting to incidents involving a UAV to identify the owner.

Aerial photography is also a popular tool for inspectors, appraisers and insurance professionals. It’s taken hold in the marketing of large land parcels as well, which tend to not photograph well from ground level.

Agents involved in the sale of timber stands and speciality land uses also benefit from being able to capture a property’s assets from above.

Agents who are pilots will need to move toward compliance quickly, and those who contract aerial photography should check-in with their marketing partners.

The law includes hobbyists, as well, so there’s no getting around the rule under the guise of not being a commercial pilot.

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