FAA May Soon Require Drones to Have License Plates

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

The FAA is proposing a requirement of operators of all drones prominently display their drone registration number by use of a mounted plate.  Wasn’t this required in the original drone registration rules? Well, yes and no.

“This action would require small unmanned aircraft owners to display the unique identifier assigned by the FAA upon completion of the registration process on an external surface of the aircraft,” the abstract of the rule reads. “Small unmanned aircraft owners would no longer be permitted to enclose the unique identifier in a compartment.”

Back when the FAA originally required drone registration, it was a requirement that the registration number be placed somewhere on the drone itself. The original rules were thrown out in the US Court of Appeals, but drone registration was reworked and is now once again required for all UAVS between .55 and 55 pounds.

Personally, I didn’t mind it, I just took a Sharpie and wrote it where it can be seen. If you’re drone flies off (as mine did), you’d want whoever found it to use the registration number to get it back to you. At least in theory. I wasn’t so lucky, but then again, the FAA didn’t come knocking and fining me for having a wayward UAV either.

“We need assurances that any drone, any unmanned aircraft, operating in controlled airspace is identifiable and trackable. It’s as simple as that.” – Dan Elwell, Acting FAA administrator

That’s really what this is all about, for the FAA to know who’s drone it is should a UAV fly where it isn’t supposed to, or crash and be recovered.  The number would also allow authorities to track and identify the drone, as proposed by the US Department of Homeland Security. DHS also wants the authority to shot down any drone it deems a threat to public safety.

The proposed addition to CFR Part 107 would add a requirement similar to that of all fixed and rotary wing aircraft, which have an “N” number on their tail for easy identification. Currently, drone operators are allowed to have the identifier located inside of the drone, rather than with the proposed outward display.

Image Credit – Peta Pixel

The difference is that the proposed rule would require a license plate, but details over size of said plate, as well as penalties for non-compliance, have not been worked out. But frankly, I think having it painted or place on your drone with a sticker is more reasonable. License plates can add weight and if the plate falls off, who knows who it could hit plummeting to the ground?  Aircraft simply paint the number on the tail and I expect something similar will be required on the drone itself.

Frankly, as a licensed private pilot, I’m OK with this. Aircraft have had tail numbers for decades and having your registration number in a compartment is really rather pointless. Authorities should be able to spot a drone, read the number and then find out who owns it. That’s just common sense.

“The rapid adoption of drones has created new concerns about safety, security and privacy, but those must be balanced against the incredible benefits that drones have already brought to society,” said said Brendan Schulman, DJI’s Vice President for Policy and Legal Affairs. “Electronic drone identification, thoughtfully implemented, can help solve policy challenges, head off restrictive regulations, and provide accountability without being expensive or intrusive for drone pilots.

Moreover, an electronic identifier, has also been developed, through DJI’s AeroScope technology. Aeroscope picks up the transmission signal of any DJI model drone as soon as it powers on and reads the drone registration number embedded in the signal.  It can then plot its location and flight path. The technology is being implemented at local area airports.

Hat Tip – Engadget, PetaPixel

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About James DeRuvo 520 Articles
Editor in Chief at doddleNEWS. James has been a writer and editor at doddleNEWS for nearly a decade. As a producer/director/writer James won a Telly Award in 2005 for his Short Film "Searching for Inspiration. James is a recovering talk show producer from KABC in Los Angeles, and a weekly guest on the Digital Production Buzz with Larry Jordan.

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