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DOT/FAA RIN: 2120-AK82 Publication ID: Fall 2017 
Title: +Registration and Marking Requirements for Small Unmanned Aircraft 
Abstract:

This final rule amends the web-based aircraft registration process for the registration of small unmanned aircraft to facilitate compliance with the statutory requirement that an aircraft must be registered prior to operation. Accordingly, this final rule removes the requirement for owners who operate their model aircraft exclusively in compliance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft to register their aircraft. Additionally, as this final rule requires small unmanned aircraft owners to externally display the unique identifier assigned by the FAA upon completion of the registration process, they will no longer be permitted to enclose the unique identifier in an aircraft compartment.

 
Agency: Department of Transportation(DOT)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: Regulatory 
CFR Citation: 14 CFR 1    14 CFR 375    14 CFR 45    14 CFR 47    14 CFR 48    14 CFR 91   
Legal Authority: 49 USC 106(f), 49 USC 41703, 44101 to 44106, 44110-44113, and 44701   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

This interim final rule (IFR) provides an alternative process that small unmanned aircraft owners may use to comply with the statutory requirements for aircraft operations. As provided in the clarification of these statutory requirements and request for further information issued October 19, 2015, 49 U.S.C. 44102 requires aircraft to be registered prior to operation. See 80 FR 63912 (October 22, 2015). Currently, the only registration and aircraft identification process available to comply with the statutory aircraft registration requirement for all aircraft owners, including small unmanned aircraft, is the paper-based system set forth in 14 CFR parts 45 and 47. As the Secretary and the Administrator noted in the clarification issued October 19, 2015 and further analyzed in the regulatory evaluation accompanying this rulemaking, the Department and the FAA have determined that this process is too onerous for small unmanned aircraft owners and the FAA. Thus, after considering public comments and the recommendations from the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Registration Task Force, the Department and the FAA have developed an alternative process, provided by this IFR (14 CFR part 48) for registration and marking available only to small unmanned aircraft owners. Small unmanned aircraft owners may use this process to comply with the statutory requirement to register their aircraft prior to operating in the National Airspace System (NAS).

Summary of the Legal Basis:

The FAA's authority to issue rules on aviation safety is found in Title 49 of the United States Code. Subtitle I, section 106 describes the authority of the FAA Administrator. Subtitle VII, Aviation Programs, describes in more detail the scope of the agency's authority. This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in 49 U.S.C. 106(f), which establishes the authority of the Administrator to promulgate regulations and rules; and 49 U.S.C. 44701(a)(5), which requires the Administrator to promote safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing regulations and setting minimum standards for other practices, methods, and procedures necessary for safety in air commerce and national security. This rule is also promulgated pursuant to 49 U.S.C. 44101 to 44106 and 44110 to 44113 which require aircraft to be registered as a condition of operation and establish the requirements for registration and registration processes. Additionally, this rulemaking is promulgated pursuant to the Secretary's authority in 49 U.S.C. 41703 to permit the operation of foreign civil aircraft in the United States.

Alternatives:

Currently, the only registration and aircraft identification process available to comply with the statutory aircraft registration requirement for all aircraft owners, including small unmanned aircraft, is the paper-based system set forth in 14 CFR parts 45 and 47. As the Secretary and the Administrator noted in the clarification issued October 19, 2015, and further analyzed in the regulatory evaluation accompanying this rulemaking, the Department and the FAA have determined that this process is too onerous for small unmanned aircraft owners and the FAA.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

In order to implement the new streamlined, web-based system described in this interim final rule (IFR), the FAA will incur costs to develop, implement, and maintain the system. Small UAS owners will require time to register and mark their aircraft, and that time has a cost. The total of government and registrant resource cost for small unmanned aircraft registration and marking under this new system is $56 million ($46 million present value at seven percent) through 2020. In evaluating the impact of this interim final rule, we compare the costs and benefits of the IFR to a baseline consistent with existing practices: for modelers, the exercise of discretion by FAA (not requiring registration) and continued broad public outreach and educational campaign, and for non-modelers, registration via part 47 in the paper-based system. Given the time to register aircraft under the paper-based system and the projected number of sUAS aircraft, the FAA estimates the cost to the government and non-modelers would be about $383 million. The resulting cost savings to society from this IFR equals the cost of this baseline policy ($383 million) minus the cost of this IFR ($56 million), or about $327 million ($259 million in present value at a seven percent discount rate). These cost savings are the net quantified benefits of this IFR.

Risks:

Many of the owners of these new sUAS may have no prior aviation experience and have little or no understanding of the NAS, let alone knowledge of the safe operating requirements and additional authorizations required to conduct certain operations. Aircraft registration provides an immediate and direct opportunity for the agency to engage and educate these new users prior to operating their unmanned aircraft and to hold them accountable for noncompliance with safe operating requirements, thereby mitigating the risk associated with the influx of operations. In light of the increasing reports and incidents of unsafe incidents, rapid proliferation of both commercial and model aircraft operators, and the resulting increased risk, the Department has determined it is contrary to the public interest to proceed with further notice and comment rulemaking regarding aircraft registration for small unmanned aircraft. To minimize risk to other users of the NAS and people and property on the ground, it is critical that the Department be able to link the expected number of new unmanned aircraft to their owners and educate these new owners prior to commencing operations.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
Interim Final Rule  12/16/2015  80 FR 78593   
Interim Final Rule Effective  12/21/2015 
OMB approval of information collection  12/21/2015  80 FR 79255   
Interim Final Rule Comment Period End  01/15/2016 
Final Rule  02/00/2018 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
International Impacts: This regulatory action will be likely to have international trade and investment effects, or otherwise be of international interest.
RIN Information URL: www.regulations.gov   Public Comment URL: www.regulations.gov  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Agency Contact:
Sara Mikolop
Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, DC 20591
Phone:202 267-7776
Email: sara.mikolop@faa.gov