The National FAA drone registration needs two things to be meaningful.

  1. The drone pilot’s trust that their information and most importantly their family information is safe and secure
  2. High number of registrants to give social proof that the FAA drone registration is not only beneficial but is indirectly supported by drone enthusiasts across America.

Without trust you won’t need the numbers to build social proof and without social proof it’s going to be difficult to build trust. So what should the FAA do? Well, Forbes contributor John Goglia may have found how the FAA solved their problem with 2 words, “below” and “intend.” What do I mean? Below you’ll see that under Acknowledgement of Safety Guidance the first you must acknowledge that “I will fly below 400 feet.” But doesn’t everyone fly below 400 feet when they take off? Doesn’t everyone fly below 400 feet before they reach 400 feet? The only person who can’t are those who live 400 feet above sea-level.



And now Intention

The FAA’s registration process requires a registrant to check a box stating “I have read, understand and intend to follow the safety guidance’”, including flying below 400 feet.

So if I understand and intend on flying my drone under 400 feet before I fly above 400 feet will I be lawful flying drone pilot? Remember that not abiding by the FAA drone regulations is a federal crime and most people do not have the time or money to take the FAA to court over 2 words.

John Goglia asks if the FAA is allowing drone pilots to lie. That may be true but what about the FAA? Is the FAA lying about how serious they are about the 400 foot limit? John correctly points out that long before irresponsible consumer drone pilots there have been many Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) members and others who have soared well above 400 feet safely. So what gives?

  1. Is the FAA allowing potential law-biding registrants to lie about flying under 400 feet?
  2. Is the FAA lying that they are taking the 400 ft limit seriously? (That is until someone gets hurt.)

You can see the problem here. It’s like the FAA is saying, “trust us, we just need you to register but we won’t prosecute if you go 401 feet.” I don’t know federal time over one foot is a hard price to pay.

John ends his article with:

The AMA implied in response to the FAQ titled: “Am I permitted to fly above 400 feet? What if I had to check a box saying otherwise on the federal registration website“ that the FAA had sanctioned its members checking that they would fly below 400 feet – a condition of registration – when they had no intention of doing so.  I asked the FAA if it agreed that  ”AMA members who register can fly their model aircraft above 400 feet  – even though the registration process requires them to check a box saying they intend to fly below 400 feet?  Does this exception apply to non-AMA members, as well?”

An FAA spokesman responded: “The law requires all aircraft to be registered. The FAA considers modelers who operate in accordance with a community based set of safety guidelines and within the programming of a nationwide community-based organization to be in compliance with Section 336 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. We are continuing to look at ways to improve the registration process.”

You can read John’s article Is FAA Saying It’s OK For AMA Members To Lie On Drone Registration Form