Feb. 28, 2019

To address security and safety concerns, owners and operators of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) must now clearly display the FAA-issued registration number on the exterior of their drones.

This interim final rule revises 14 CFR 48.205(c) – Display and Location of Unique Identifier – which has, since 2015, allowed operators to display the registration number within the drone if the compartment, such as a battery case, could be easily accessed without tools.

The FAA will accept public comments on this interim rule until March 15, and review them to determine if the ultimate final rule requires changes.

Citing an sUAS’s possible payload of booby-trapped explosives, the FAA published the interim final rule earlier this month with “good cause for immediate action.” Clearly visible external registration will enable law enforcement officers and first responders to start the identification process without handling the drone to find a hidden registration number.

While the rule requires owners and operators to clearly display the FAA-issued registration number on the drone’s exterior, it does not specify an airframe location.

The rule does not change the acceptable external marking methods in § 48.205(a) and (b). These sections require drone owners and operators to affix the registration number using a method that ensures its display “for the duration of each operation,” and maintain this “unique identifier…in a condition that is legible.”

The interim final rule amends § 48.205(c) by eliminating the ability to display the registration number in an enclosed compartment readily accessible without tools. The FAA included the internal marking in the original provision to accommodate producers who didn’t want the numbers to appear in TV and motion picture productions, and modelers who wanted to preserve the authenticity of their aircraft.