US Regulators Are Developing A Mandatory Drone Registration Programme
The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to require every drone to be registered with the federal government by the end of the year, the latest effort by regulators to bring accountability to drone use while encouraging the burgeoning market for unmanned aircraft.
“The United States Department of Transportation is bullish about technology and innovation,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Monday. The agency has created a special drone task force, as BuzzFeed News reported Friday, composed of government officials and industry stakeholders to lead the national registration project.
Foxx said the registry will help drone operators educate themselves about flight rules and will allow the Transportation Department to better enforce airspace safety. “If unmanned aircraft operators break the rules, clearly there should be consequences,” he said. “But, in fact, there can be no accountability if a person breaking the rules can’t be identified.” According to Foxx, the problem facing the department and law enforcement agencies is not identifying particular drones in the sky, but connecting wayward aircraft with their law-breaking operators on the ground. “Clarifying that federal law requires the registration of all aircraft, including unmanned aircraft, is essential to ensuring accountability,” he said.
The particulars of the registration process, including the exact information to be collected from drone owners and the types of aircraft that must be registered, have yet to be defined. Foxx said he hopes the drone task force will propose specific rules by mid-November, with final rules being adopted before Christmas.
Even as the Federal Aviation Administration maintains a blanket ban on commercial drone use, individual operators can apply for an exemption. According to Foxx, nearly 2,000 such exemptions for routine commercial activity have been granted to date.
While it’s possible the drone registry will go live before years end, Foxx said official drone regulations aren’t likely to be finalized until next June, stressing that the speedy implementation of a drone registry won’t delay the FAA’s efforts to set comprehensive drone rules. Over the course of several congressional hearings this spring and summer, lawmakers from both parties have criticized the FAA for its apparent foot-dragging on setting national policies for drones. At the end of September, the FAA failed to meet a deadline set by Congress in 2012 to integrate drones into American airspace.
Fear not, however, they are still legal in the UK providing the drone weighs less than 20kg and you are not using it for commercial reasons. And if you want to learn more about drones then take a look at our Drones and Quad-Copter Training course with a variety of start dates across the year!