FAA Finally Announces Registration Rules for Drones – UAS

AutoInformed.comThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration, aka FAA, today announced a web-based aircraft registration process for owners of small unmanned aircraft – known as UAS for Unmanned Aerial Systems – weighing more than 0.55 pounds and less than 55 pounds including payloads such as on-board cameras. Hundreds of thousands of these drones are expected to be sold during the holiday season. An untold, unregulated number are already in operation.

After heavy criticism by Congress about ignoring the threat to public safety and the lack of oversight by the agency responsible for airspace, as well as missed deadlines to do its regulatory job, the so-called Registration Task Force delivered recommendations to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on November 21.

The rule just issued uses only some of the task force recommendations. Critics say that the threats to general and commercial aviation as well as national security have not been addressed since the users will not have a pilot’s license or training of any sort about airspace rules. Worse, the potentially deadly drones will not have a transponder on board so they can be tracked. It’s a terrorist’s dream – buying over the counter drones that can conduct surveillance, and deliver biological or conventional explosives.

A report by Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone, found that 327 incidents between December 2013 and September 2015 posed a “proximity danger” where an unmanned aircraft got within 500 feet of a plane, helicopter or other manned aircraft or when a pilot determined a drone was dangerously close.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of incidents that have been reported by pilots and air traffic controllers,” Dan Gettinger told NPR. He is one of the authors of the study and co-Director of the Center for the Study of the Drone.

After years of ignoring growing airspace problems and threats to public safety, including drones halting firefighting operations and interfering with instrument approaches at airports, registration, however weak, is now a statutory requirement that applies to all of these potentially deadly toy aircraft. Under this rule, any owner of a small UAS who previously operated an unmanned aircraft prior to December 21, 2015, must register no later than February 19, 2016.

Owners of any other UAS purchased for use as a model aircraft after December 21, 2015 must register before the first flight outdoors. Owners can use either the paper-based process or the web-based system. Owners using the web must be at least 13 years old to register, but there appears to be no way of checking on that or the validity of the registration.

“The real goal is to create a culture of accountability and safety—and that means giving operators the information they need to fly safely while making it as easy as possible for them to participate in the system,” says Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs, who represented the association on the panel.

“This is a good start, but the drone industry is relatively new, and we need to be prepared to make adjustments as we learn more,” Coon told AutoInformed.

“Coming to consensus on the complex issues surrounding drone registration was challenging given the short time period and diverse perspectives in the group,” says Coon. “Throughout the process AOPA argued for rules that would ensure safety, protect the National Airspace System, and support participation and innovation in the drone community. We hope to see the drone industry continue to develop technical solutions that will help make it possible for them to safely share the National Airspace System with manned aircraft.”

Registrants will provide their name, home address and e-mail address. Upon completion of the registration process, the web application will generate a Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership that will include an identification number for the UAS owner, which must be marked on the aircraft. The registration is valid for three years.

The normal registration fee is a paltry $5, but the FAA is waiving this fee for the first 30 days from Dec. 21, 2015 to Jan 20, 2016.

The online registration system does not yet support registration of small UAS used for any purpose other than hobby or recreation – for example, using an unmanned aircraft in connection with a business. The FAA, tardy again, says it is developing “enhancements” that will allow such online registrations by spring of 2016.

About Kenneth Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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3 Responses to FAA Finally Announces Registration Rules for Drones – UAS

  1. AOPA says:

    The vast majority of drone operators want to fly safely and follow the rules,” says Jim Coon, AOPA senior vice president of government affairs. “The challenge now will be to give owners the information they need to do that. Hopefully the registration process will serve as a first step in bringing this new class of aviators into the fold so we can share information and make adjustments as unmanned aviation continues to evolve.

  2. FAA says:

    FAA on drones: “Nearly 300,000 owners have registered their small unmanned aircraft in the first 30 days after the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) online registration system went live. Owners who registered in the first month received a refund for the $5 application fee. (an outrageous taxpayer subsidy – editor

    “I am pleased the public responded to our call to register,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The National Airspace System is a great resource and all users of it, including UAS users, are responsible for keeping it safe.” (total hooey – editor)

    “The agency continues to see a steady stream of daily registrations. While the refund period expired today, the fee will still cover all the small unmanned aircraft that owners intend to use exclusively for recreational or hobby purposes. (One of the greatest threats to airspace safety and privacy – editor)

    “The FAA’s registration rule, which took effect on 21 December 2015, applies to small unmanned aircraft that weigh between 0.55 lbs. and 55 lbs (deadly to aircraft – editor). Owners of these aircraft must register before they fly outdoors. People who operated their small unmanned aircraft before December 21 must register by February 19, 2016. The current online system is only available for owners who intend to use their small unmanned aircraft exclusively for recreational or hobby purposes. The FAA is working to make the online registration system available for non-model aircraft users – such as commercial operators – by March 21 (after years of abdicating its responsibility for a growing threat in the sky the FAA is responsible for- editor).

  3. Pingback: DOT Finally, Belatedly Admits Drone Remote ID Needed | AutoInformed

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