October 23, 2015

New Mandatory Drone Registration

Since Monday, a lot of buzz and commentary has surrounded the new announcement made by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). A task force will be created in order to facilitate a process for registration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), or drones. This would be mandatory and universal for both hobby and commercial flyers. This will also include identifying markers on drones similar to those on planes.

In recent months, with popularity of drones increasing, there have been accidents and near-misses where drones flew too closely to aircrafts, sports arenas and other no-fly zones. According to DOT, “As evidenced by the recent reports of unsafe [Unmanned Aerial Systems] operations, the lack of awareness of operators regarding what must be done to operate UAS safely in the NAS, and the lack of identification of UAS and their operators pose significant challenges in ensuring accountability for responsible use. Without increased awareness and knowledge of the statutory and regulatory requirements for safe operation, the risk of unsafe UAS operations will only rise. Aircraft identification and marking will assist the Department in identifying owners of UAS that are operated in an unsafe manner, so we may continue to educate these users, and when appropriate, take enforcement action.”

Most backlash comes from those posing questions about security of personal information as well as enforceability. Will registration occur before operation or at the point-of-sale? How will this be enforced? Who is responsible for storing registration data which includes personal information? The new task will tackle these questions. More updates should be made available by DOT in the upcoming months prior to the holiday shopping season.

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