The Gear Junkie: FAA hands down drone ‘license plate’ mandate |

The Gear Junkie: FAA hands down drone ‘license plate’ mandate

Stephen Regenold
The Gear Junkie

Drones have become common gear for videographers in the outdoors. In March, a new rule for drone pilots requires identification on the exterior of the flying craft.

The requirement comes from an interim rule by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Transportation.

Officials cited terrorism threats and first-responder safety as key factors in the new rule.

Professionals and hobbyists alike will have to display a unique identifier assigned by the FAA. It went into effect Feb. 25, despite a public comment period that lasted until March 15.

The move modifies the existing mandate, which allows owners to place the required registration sticker inside a battery compartment or elsewhere out of plain sight.

According to the agencies’ decision, the rule addresses fears of “imminent risk of harm” first responders face when recovering downed drones.

“The FAA is taking this action to address concerns expressed by the law enforcement community and the FAA’s interagency security partners regarding the risk a concealed explosive device poses to first responders who must open a compartment to find the small unmanned aircraft’s registration number,” the rule states.

The move is sure to receive backlash from owners who don’t want to place large stickers on their sleek drones.

But the FAA added a provision to appease certain groups. The provision allows owners to place the registration sticker inside a battery compartment — as long as it can be accessed without the use of tools.

In addition, the FAA said it will consider future provisions that recognize the manufacturer’s serial number as the unique identifier. Until then, get ready to label your drone before its next flight.

Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at

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