FAA plans to register unmanned drones

By Sara Wyant

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2015 - Faced with more and more Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) violating U.S. airspace and interfering with fire and rescue operations,  Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta announced plans to move ahead with registering all drones.

“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,” Foxx said. “It will help protect public safety in the air and on the ground.”

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Every day, the FAA receives reports of potentially unsafe UAV operations. Pilot sightings of UAVs doubled between 2014 and 2015.  The reports ranged from incidents at major sporting events and flights near manned aircraft, to interference with wildfire operations.

“These reports signal a troubling trend,” Huerta said.  “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.” 

A new task force, appointed to address this situation, will be composed of 25 to 30 representatives from the UAV and manned aviation industries, the federal government, and other stakeholders. 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.

The task force may make additional safety recommendations as it deems appropriate. Secretary Foxx directed the group to deliver its report by Nov. 20.

“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,” Foxx said.  “It will help protect public safety in the air and on the ground.”

While the task force does its work, the FAA will continue its aggressive education and outreach efforts, including the “Know Before You Fly” campaign and “No Drone Zone” initiatives with the nation's busiest airports.  The agency also will continue to take strong enforcement action against egregious violators. At the same time, it will continue working with stakeholders to improve safety to ensure further integration and innovation in this promising segment of aviation.

To read statements in support of today's announcement, please click here. 

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