In Friday’s announcement regarding the number of registrations of model sUAS in the FAA’s sUAS database, the FAA also hinted at plans to extend the database to commercial operators in March.
In the press release, the FAA states that it “is working to make the online registration system available for non-model aircraft users - such as commercial operators - by March 21.” This extension of the registration requirements to commercial operators is a new step for the agency, which thus far has only opened the database to exclusively recreational or hobby sUAS operators.
The interim final rule requires new model sUAS to be registered before they fly outside, whereas users who operated their model sUAS before December 21, 2015 are not required to register until February 19, 2016. The interim final rule excluded commercial operators from the registration system.
The press release also announced that the DOT and FAA were “pleased” and “encouraged” that nearly 300,000 owners have registered their model sUAS in the first 30 days after the online registration system went live. However, this number appears to be a fraction of the over 700,000 sUAS that FAA predicted would be sold during the 2015 holiday season, not to mention the millions sold before then. Owners who registered in the first month received a refund for the $5 application fee—but that period ends today.