New FAA Regulation Requires UAV Owners to Display Drone ID on Exterior

The FAA is preparing for safely implemented drone traffic not only through the UAS Integration Pilot Program but with new rules for hobby users too.

The drone industry is rapidly evolving. When we reported on the Commercial Drone Alliance urging the Federal Aviation Administration to regulate hobby pilots as stringently as their commercial counterparts, we didn’t expect the agency to react so soon. According to Bloomberg, U.S. aviation regulators may soon require recreational drone users to place government-issued drone identification numbers on the exterior of their devices.

In contrast to last month’s news regarding French lawmakers eager to impose mandatory remote identification systems in local drone manufacturing, the FAA’s approach is a more tactile, externally visible alternative. Acting Administrator of the FAA, Dan Elwell, stated at a Bloomberg Government conference earlier this month that the agency simply can’t condone “unidentified objects” in its airspace. 

“We need assurances that any drone, any unmanned aircraft, operating in controlled airspace is identifiable and trackable,” he said. “It’s as simple as that."

As it stands, those who have registered their drones with the FAA already have to place a drone identification number on their unmanned aircraft, but it can remain hidden behind the battery or anywhere else. This new regulation, which the FAA filed earlier this month, would require the ID to be visible to an outside observer. 

“This action would require small unmanned aircraft owners to display the unique identifier assigned by the FAA upon completion of the registration process on an external surface of the aircraft,” the FAA wrote. “Small unmanned aircraft owners would no longer be permitted to enclose the unique identifier in a compartment.”

Although not everyone is a registered UAV user and this may do little to combat illegal drone use. In an era of dangerous near-misses, any additional identification measures seem like the appropriate next step from the agency.