The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its database that shows how many drones owners are registered in each city, state, or zip code. You can view and search the registration data here.
There are 461,433 registered hobbyist drone owners in 39,471 zip codes – that’s an average of just under 11.7 registered drone owners per zip code, according to the database.
Release of the database responds to a number of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted since the new drone registration system launched began on December 21, 2015.
The FAA is not posting the names and street addresses of registered owners because the data is exempt from disclosure under a FOIA exemption that protects information in agency files from a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
The FAA based its determination to post only city, state and zip code for several reasons, including the fact that many of the registrants are minors and only hobbyists or recreational users. When the FAA published its Federal Register notice pertaining to the new drone registration system it said that name and addresses would only be available by the registration number issued to the registrant. For these reasons, the FAA believes the privacy interest in such data outweighs any public interest.
Anyone who owns a drone weighing more than 0.55 lbs. but less than 55 lbs. must register before flying outdoors for hobby or recreation. All owners of small drones used for other purposes must also register as one of the requirements associated with a Section 333 exemption. Keep in mind, drone registration is tied to the owner not the drone, so there are more than 461,433 drones flying around with approved identification numbers on them.
Failure to register a drone can result in civil penalties up to $27,500, and criminal penalties for failure to register can include fines of up to $250,000. To register, you’ll need to provide your name, home address and e-mail address.
According to the FAA, nearly 300,000 owners registered in the first 30 days, with 45,000 of those coming two days after the system launched.
The FAA recently changed its tune on students flying drones for educational purposes. FAA administrator Michael Huerta said schools and students will soon no longer need a Section 333 exemption or any other authorization prior to flying drones as part of their coursework.