U.S. Government to Require Drone Registrations

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DroneWire  |  October 17, 2015
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UPDATE: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration to Hold Unmanned Aircraft Announcement Press Conference on On Monday, October 19 at 12:30 p.m. EDT

According to a report by NBC News, the federal government is preparing to require drone operators to register their devices with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Little is known about the plan, which is expected to be announced Monday, or how it will affect the emerging business and consumer UAV market. It was reported that the government will collaborate with the UAV industry to develop a drone registration system, and that it may be in place by the Christmas season.

The Federal Aviation administration has demonstrated heightened concerns over a perceived rise in close calls between radio controlled UAVs and manned aircraft in 2015, and has been engaged in a campaign to educate the public on safe drone operations and federal regulations that govern the national airspace.

In September, the Academy of Model Aeronautics released a report in which they examined the data used by the FAA to support the agency’s claim of “soaring instances” of close calls with drones, and found that only a fraction of the records contained legitimate reports. Military aircraft crashes and even a UFO sighting were found among the data used by the FAA.

Tonight’s revelation creates many big questions. With an estimated 15,000-20,000 consumer drones selling in the U.S. each month, and an expected million drones to be sold as Christmas gifts this year, how will the Department of Transportation implement such a registration program in time for the holiday season? What criteria will the government use to classify “drones” that are in need of registration? Will previously purchased drones require registration?

“My gut feeling is that this is yet another way for the FAA to try to instill an unsubstantiated fear of drones in the public's mind” - Peter Sachs


“How would it even be helpful? The troublesome drones are not generally found, they are only seen. And the ones that crash and are found, have generally been traced back to the owner by the owner being present, or by the owner seeking its recovery,” said Peter Sachs, a Connecticut-based attorney, advocate for the commercial drone industry and founder of the Drone Pilots Association.

“My gut feeling is that this is yet another way for the FAA to try to instill an unsubstantiated fear of drones in the public's mind, and to intimidate those who operate drones by making it appear as if they'd be able to track them down if they were to do something wrong. In reality, they can't and never will be able to do that. There will be far more drones in the sky than manned aircraft. The FAA does not now and never will have enough money or resources to contend with sheer volume of drones that will fill the skies in the years to come,” said Sachs.

The move to require registration of consumer devices by the Department of Transportation would be unprecedented, and may solicit unknown effects on an industry that is estimated to create over 100,000 new jobs and $82 billion in economic activity in the next 10 years.

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  • Andrew Liles

    It would be smarter to have a pilots licence for the user with a hefty fine for those who fly without one. You need a licence to broadcast a ham radio but not for the radio itself.