Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Recreational drone users will soon be required to register aircraft with government

Recreational drone users will be required "to register their aircraft with the government for the first time in an attempt to track rogue flying robots that are increasingly posing a threat to aviation safety," Craig Whitlock reports for The Washington Post. The basic details of the registration system still need to be worked out but could be in place within two months, U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta announced on Monday.

Foxx and Huerta said a task force will be created composed of 25 to 30 representatives from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and manned aviation industries, the federal government and other stakeholders, Sara Wyant reports for Agri-Pulse. "The group will advise the department on which aircraft should be exempt from registration due to a low safety risk, including toys and certain other small UAV. The task force also will explore options for a streamlined system that would make registration less burdensome for commercial UAV operators."

Foxx told reporters, “Registering unmanned aircraft will help build a culture of accountability and responsibility, especially with new users who have no experience operating in the U.S. aviation system. It will help protect public safety in the air and on the ground.” Huerta added, “Registration will help make sure that operators know the rules and remain accountable to the public for flying their unmanned aircraft responsibly. When they don't fly safely, they'll know there will be consequences.”

Under current rules drone operators are not supposed to fly above 400 feet or within five miles of an airport, but FAA has been mostly powerless to enforce the rules, leading some states to create their own regulations. Fear of unregulated drone use has been widespread. In June 2014, the National Park Service banned drones in all parks and areas it manages. In August 2014, a tourist crashed a drone into Yellowstone National Park. Also in August 2014 drones were banned over the Appalachian Trail and in parks in Utah and Colorado, and a drone was reported flying over an NFL game. In July, a rural Kentucky man shot down a drone flying over his house.

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