The federal government is expected to announce today a new plan requiring anyone buying a drone to register the device with the U.S. Department of Transportation. The registration of the drone will enable authorities to track a drone back to its owner if used in a dangerous manner.
Under the plan, the DOT would work with the drone industry to set up a structure for registering the drones, and the regulations could be in place by Christmas.
The government has been concerned about the rise in close calls between unmanned drones and aircraft flying into and out of some of the nation’s biggest airports. In July, a passenger jet preparing to land at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport had a close call with a drone, which was 100 feet away from the jet at an altitude of 1,700 feet. Normal safe separation distance is between aircraft is at least 1,000 feet.
Private drones were also blamed for hampering aerial firefighting efforts over a California blaze in July. Firefighting aircraft trying to attack the fast-moving blaze in the Cajon Pass had to leave the area for around 20 minutes over safety concerns, officials said. That fire swept over a freeway and burned 20 vehicles.
On Oct. 6, the FAA announced the largest civil penalty proposed yet — $1.9 million — against a UAS operator for endangering the safety of the national airspace.
Brian Wynne, president & CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), released the following statement on today’s announcement that he is joining the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Task Force to develop a streamlined registration process for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS):
“AUVSI welcomes the opportunity to join this task force of government and industry stakeholders. This collaborative effort to develop an efficient process for UAS registration should lead to increased accountability across the entire aviation community.
“Under the FAA’s proposed small UAS rules released earlier this year, commercial operators would be required to register their platforms. Extending this requirement to other UAS users will help promote responsibility and safety.
“In addition to UAS registration, it is essential for the FAA to finalize its small UAS rules as quickly as possible. Once this happens, we will have an established framework for UAS operations, allowing anyone who follows the rules to fly. Considering that safety is at stake, time is of the essence to finalize the rules.
“Because safe operations are essential for all users of the national airspace, AUVSI is also looking forward to continuing its work with the FAA, the Academy of Model Aeronautics and more than two dozen supporters of the ‘Know Before You Fly’ campaign to educate newcomers to UAS technology about safe and responsible flying.”