City News

Statesville Regional Airport Manager John Ferguson didn't receive a drone for Christmas, but he is aware that those who did must now follow new guidelines before operating these "unmanned aircraft systems" within five miles of an airport or near aircraft flight plans.

According to Ferguson, the Federal Aviation Authority requires that drones are "supposed to fly no higher than 400 feet during daylight hours, keeping the aircraft within sight of the operator and away from airports … A good rule of thumb is to not fly your drone any higher than an existing building, tree or utility pole.”

Drones that weigh between nine ounces and 55 pounds must now be registered with the FAA, said Ferguson.  The owner can register online at, giving their name, street address and email address.  There is a $5 fee, explained Ferguson, which allows the FAA to use the credit-card transaction to confirm the owner’s identity.  The fee will be refunded during the first month.

A certificate and a number to mark on the aircraft will be issued to each registrant, so that authorities can locate the owner if there is ever a problem.  Existing owners (before December 25, 2015) will have until February 19, 2016, to register. New owners must register before their first flight.

Even though there are tough penalties for failing to register a drone (up to $27,500 in civil fines and $250,000 and three years in prison for criminal offenses),  FAA officials stress that their efforts are educational as much as for safety enforcement.  According to the FAA, about 100 pilots a month report that they have spotted a drone flying near them.

For more information, contact Ferguson at or call 704-761-2370.


Nancy Davis
Public Affairs Director
email Nancy