FAA plan to register non-commercial drones expected by Christmas

Drone registry plan expected by Christmas

Close encounters between drones and commercial aircraft are becoming more frequent, and the federal government is planning new rules to keep planes safe.

The Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration aim to have a web-based registration portal for privately owned unmanned aerial vehicles up and running before Christmas, said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The portal is part of a wider drone regulation plan, including registration process for unmanned aerial vehicle systems. A task force of public officials and private stakeholders has been formed to deliver policy recommendations on drone issues, with a report due out by Nov. 20.

Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta unveiled the plan at an Oct. 19 event, which included trade groups and associations representing such stakeholders as drone manufacturers, commercial pilots, airport administrators and model plane hobbyists.

Registration would apply retroactively to all privately purchased drones, not just new purchases.

The intent is "to send a signal that this is serious," Foxx said in a news conference. "This isn't driving your ATV on your property," Foxx said, adding that there could be penalties for those not registering their aircraft.

The aim of the registration is to trace drone ownership in the event pilotless aircraft are seen violating flight rules in restricted areas or operating in an unsafe manner. Exactly what information the web portal will collect from private drone owners is part of what the task force will explore, said Foxx.

The group will also advise DOT officials on what aircraft should be exempt from registration because of low safety risk, including toys and certain other small UAS.  The task force also will explore options for a streamlined system that would make registration less burdensome for commercial UAS operators.

A longer version of this story originally appeared on FCW, a sister site to GCN.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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