State agencies issue drone warnings in Delaware

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Expecting drones to be hot gifts this year, state leaders are warning residents of things to be aware of if a flying drone is waiting under the tree next week.

Starting December 21, the FAA will require drone owners to register their flying machine with the agency. Any aircraft weighing more than 50 grams (0.55 lbs.) and less than 55 lbs. must be registered at a cost of $5.

“Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiast are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. Drone owners will have until February 19 to register.

That warning was echoed by DelDOT leaders who put out an advisory noting that “UAV’s, also known as ‘drones,’ are considered aircraft, and are not just toys.” DelDOT says those aircraft should be flown at less than 400 ft. and should not be flown within five miles of an airport.

DelDOT also says drone flyers should not to use their aircraft in state parks except in approved areas. “As we acknowledge that drones are becoming more and more popular for recreational use, including in Delaware, we also restate our intent to enforce regulations restricting their use in Delaware State Parks,” said State Parks Enforcement Chief Wayne Kline earlier this year.

The Delaware Insurance Commissioner also warned drone owners to make sure their insurance coverage is in place before taking flight. Karen Weldin Stewart says drones pose a significant risk to property and life on the ground in the event of an accident.

The Insurance Commissioner’s office says while private drone use as a hobby is generally covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy, an accident caused by a drone could leave the operator liable. The IC’s office recommends checking with your agent or insurer to make sure your homeowner’s insurance covers liability for such an accident.

The FAA’s registration policy will make it easier to trace the drones back to the owner, which means having appropriate insurance is vital.

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