By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
According to a new plan to be announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FAA, all owners of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, whether commercial or for hobby, will be required to register them before they can legally fly them anywhere in the US.
“Due to an astounding growth in the industry and the safety issues, we’re going to require operators of drones to register their aircraft just like commercial drone operators do currently.” – Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
The move to require federal registration comes on the heels of hundreds of close calls involving drones that have the FAA investigating them in just about every state in the union. Last week, the FAA proposed a record fine of nearly $2 million on a drone photography company known as SkyPan, who violated airspace in New York and Chicago dozens of times since 2012, and other close calls.
These included a drone coming within 100 feet of a passenger jet with 159 people on board, and a well publicized incident where drones prevented aerial fire fighter planes from being able to drop water on a brush fire, which caused dozens of vehicles to be torched when the fire jumped the road.
“We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules. We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry.” – Michael Huerta, FAA Administrator
The new registration requirement joins the current FAA commercial drone rules which include flying to no higher than 500 feet, daylight operation only, flying only within line of sight of the drone operator, and not carrying a payload of under 4.4 pounds and over 55 pounds. Hobbyists also have the requirement of having to stay five miles away from any airports, something that the FAA says is largely being ignored.
“Requiring people to register their drone at the point of sale would provide at least some ability to track it back if we find that they are violating some FAA rule. – Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to CBS News
By requiring all drones to be registered with the U.S. Department of Transportation, any crashed drone found by authorities can be directly linked to an operator for investigation, making the operator liable for any damage or injury which may occur. And while there are no set FAA rules governing recreational drone use, federal registration of drones will be required of hobbyists as well.
I have to say I agree with this move. Drone sales have exploded in 2015, and the FAA is beseiged with reports of near misses from airline and helicopter pilots, as well as people who are just complaining about privacy and safety. It’s been so prevalent that one defense industry company has created a ‘gun’ to bring down any unwanted drone that may be loitering around where it shouldn’t be.
The bottom line is that when you’re dealing with air traffic, and people who are flying here and there, even the smallest thing like a bird can take down a plane and kill hundreds of lives. With thousands of low cost drones now sailing through out the skies, the FAA is struggling to get ahead of this exploding industry in order to keep everyone safe, and requiring a drone owner to register their UAV and have a number on it, is a small price to pay to help insure that we all fly in safer skies.
The new requirement is expected to be announced today, with the FAA and Department of Transportation working for the next few months to form a task force that will include representatives of the drone industry, pilot associations, and other interested parties.
Check out our list of Drone Etiquette tips.
Hat Tip – NBC News