New US task force aimed at mandatory drone registration

The US Department of Transportation took the first step this week towards mandatory drone registration, by announcing formation of a task force to create a registration process. Registration could begin as soon as the holiday season, DOT officials said Monday at a Washington news conference. The idea is to help build a culture of accountability […]


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The US Department of Transportation took the first step this week towards mandatory drone registration, by announcing formation of a task force to create a registration process. Registration could begin as soon as the holiday season, DOT officials said Monday at a Washington news conference.

The idea is to help build a culture of accountability and responsibility among drone operators, DOT secretary Anthony Foxx, said In a statement. Federal Aviation Administration chief Michael Huerta put it another way: “When they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences.”

Small, rogue drones weighing less than 55 pounds have been an increasing concern among safety regulators for years. So far in 2015, pilots reported unsafe activity by unmanned aerial vehicles about 100 times a month, the FAA said. Last August, two airliners flying over the New York City area each reported passing within 100 feet of drones. Drones that fly too close to aircraft can easily be sucked into a jet engine, or crash into a cockpit window.

The registration idea is based on the premise that if people who purchase drones are required to register them, then regulators will be able to track rogue drones back to their owners. Registering drones is the “first good point” of getting to know where the drone operator is and who the drone operator is, said Foxx. But he said that’s not enough. “You need a little bit more,” Foxx said, because the “bad guys” certainly will not certify their drones and not have them registered, according to a CNN report.

Airline pilots said they support formation of the task force and they want to take part in how it’s implemented. “We look forward to engaging in discussions with this task force…” a statement from the Air Line Pilots Association said Monday.

Authorities also want to require existing drone owners to register retroactively. They’ll have to figure out how to enforce registration among the estimated hundreds of thousands of drone operators throughout the nation. That won’t be easy. Foxx said he thinks many, if not most users, will comply.

Some estimates indicate a million or more drones could be purchased this coming holiday season, according to a Helicopter Association International statement, Monday.



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