The US Department of Transportation (USDoT) Secretary Anthony Foxx announced today that drones in the United States will soon require federal registration. As part of this effort, Secretary Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta are putting together a task force made up representatives from the government, along with the UAS and manned aviation industries to provide recommendations on how to best implement a registration process.
According to the USDoT, drones pose potential hazards to manned aircraft, with sightings by pilots doubling from 2014 to 2015. These have also included incidents near major sporting events and interference with emergency responders such as firefighting crews. As the FAA is still working on a new legal framework for the operation of drones, the registration requirement is an effort to introduce a level of accountability to those flying their aircraft irresponsibly.
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Due to report on November 20, the task force is made up of 25 to 30 representatives from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, Academy of Model Aircraft, Air Line Pilots Association, and others. Its purpose is to draw up an advisory list as to which unmanned aircraft should be exempt from regulation (such as toys and small drones), how the registration process can be streamlined, and safety recommendations where appropriate.
The FAA says that in the meantime it will continue its safety education initiatives, such as the Know Before You Fly and No Drone Zone campaigns, and rigid enforcement of current flight restrictions.
"Registration will help make sure that operators know the rules and remain accountable to the public for flying their unmanned aircraft responsibly," says Huerta. "When they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences."