U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx Announces Unmanned Aircraft Registration Requirement

New Task Force to Develop Recommendations by November 20

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta today announced the creation of a task force to develop recommendations for a registration process for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).

The task force will be composed of 25 to 30 diverse representatives from the UAS 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 UAS.

The task force also will explore options for a streamlined system that would make registration less burdensome for commercial UAS 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.” Every day, the FAA receives reports of potentially unsafe UAS operations. Pilot sightings of UAS 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.”

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.

Secretary Foxx was joined by representatives from the following stakeholder groups:

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Academy of Model Aircraft Air Line Pilots Association American Association of Airport Executives Helicopter Association International PrecisionHawk AirMap/ Small UAV Coalition Consumer Electronics Association

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Comment by Mike Tassey on October 22, 2015 at 10:16am

Again, this is not about safety.  If it were, we would be talking about enforcement of airspace restrictions and flight parameters in firmware from the OEMs.  Not requiring 6-year olds to register with the Feds to fly their Toys R' US drone in their back yard.

 

I wonder how long before we have to register our green laser pointers with the Feds?

Comment by Philip Giacalone on October 22, 2015 at 11:00am

Remember that this is just the first step in an evolving process of new safety regulations. What they're working on now is certainly not final or even the last step in regulation.

Restricting the flight envelope of drones in the firmware is something I've supported for some time. Those limits would obviously include altitude limits and no fly zones, at the very least. I believe several leaders within the drone community also support the idea of flight restrictions. Even the AMA would likely not oppose them.

Flight restrictions through regulations are likely coming, since they make good sense and will keep people from doing dangerous and stupid things. To get some idea of what's already been proposed, see Senate Bill 1608, The Consumer Drone Safety Act

The coming changes are all about maintaining and improving aviation safety. More will be done to achieve those goals. Stay tuned. 

Comment by Ernst Von Schmidt on October 22, 2015 at 5:33pm

Absolute nonsense. This shill for the FAA viewpoint tries to equate shared road use and automobile registration with what's proposed by these thugs.  Fine, define narrow aerial roadways then, just as paved ones are defined, and tell people with this or that aircraft which they may and may not use, just as with paved ones. Because the correct, logical analogy to what the FAA idiots are proposing (and are in many regards already doing) would have the DMV claiming authority over every square inch of ground (and even water), and would require any vehicle "designed and intended to move on the surface of the earth" to be registered, from a toddler's tricycle through r/c cars, roller skates, unicycles, bicycles, mopeds, and on up through farm tractors, combines and bulldozers, even if constructed and operated entirely on private property. Far fetched? Not really, the California DMV already sets their hooks into just about every sort of offroad vehicle and small boat. These worthless, corrupt revenue-generating bureaucracies are cancers on society that grow like runaway tumors if not reigned in by either the courts or congress. That's why we have checks and balances, supposedly, which the FAA have now cavalierly bypassed with the cute and transparent little maneuver of bringing in the pathetic DOT, those overseers of 30,000  deaths a year on their 3rd world roadways, with its Jabba the Hut of a henchman, thus subverting the clearly expressed will of Congress. This garbage needs to be resisted, not accommodated. There is no safety issue that cannot be addressed within the existing legal framework. There are only outright lies spread by the FAA and their toadies, as documented in the link in my previous post. Grow a pair, for crying out loud.  

Comment by Gary McCray on October 22, 2015 at 5:51pm

Go Ernst +1

Comment by Philip Giacalone on October 22, 2015 at 6:41pm

DIYDrones: Where logic and fact no longer applies.

Believe me, if I were with the FAA, I wouldn't waste my time on this blog site. 

Comment by Don H. on October 22, 2015 at 6:49pm
What I find comical about all of this is they want me to register my toy. However, I don't have to register an airplane designated an ultralight.
Search FAR 103.
An ultralight can do a hell of a lot more damage than a toy. Yes, I'm using toy as a generic description for a so called drone.
This is rediculous.
Comment by Philip Giacalone on October 22, 2015 at 7:13pm

An ultralight is piloted by a human with intelligence and situational awareness. The number of ultralights sold this holiday season is not expected to approach 1 million units, either. 

The regulators will consider the flight capabilities, mass, and kinetic energy of the drone (at impact velocities). They do not want to deal with the registration of tiny toys that can do no harm to manned aircraft. 

Everyone is getting upset in anticipation of many things not likely to happen. In just a few weeks we'll know. 

Comment by Ernst Von Schmidt on October 22, 2015 at 11:20pm

The "one million drones for Christmas"  sky-is-falling panic is more pure propaganda, run out by the documented liars at the FAA and swallowed whole by the media, but only by a very few benighted folks here.

DJI sold something around 750,000 quads last year, and they are considered to own about 70% of the market. So there's the rough total for non-toy quads sold, worldwide, for last year, about one million. (I haven't the time to waste on a proper citation of that, but it comes from a recent issue of Forbes, which everyone here except perhaps one vocal FAA sycophant should be able to find.)

I don't know how those figures break down geographically, but Europe and Asia are both big DJI markets. Let's say there were 300,000 DJI units sold in the US. And thus roughly another 100,000 non-toy non-DJI units. Let's add a conservative guess of another 100,000 units from the past two years, since the current quad-craze began in the US. (BTW, I and some immediate associates are not looking at this in hindsight, rather we were in it, building and flying, from before very many people had even heard about these devil-machines.)

So, right now we have something like a half-million non-toy class multicopters in US skies. Add to that an unknown but large number of trad helis, not to mention a huge number of plain old model airplanes. Projections are for growing non-toy UAV sales, and we are perhaps seeing that, although there are also some anecdotal signs that the curve may be flattening a bit. Some  been-there-done-that may be creeping in to the purely recreational side, just as it did with stunt kites, trad helis, etc.

But for the number 1,000,000 for Christmas 2015 to have been obtained from anywhere but out of someones ass, it would have to include every last $20 to $100 micro-mini-nano-quad, which will probably represent at least 3/4 of that million. Let's say there's still spectacular growth happening with the big stuff, say 50% for the year. That would mean 2015's figure for non-toy US sales would jump to 600,000. Of which at most a third would be Christmas sales.

So just maybe there will be one-fifth the Christmas number spouted by the FAA and used to tout the looming rulemaking as an "emergency" procedure. Given that it's now late in the year, we maybe already have something like 300,000 new-this-year units added to the fleet, for a total of around 800,000. So it might hit a million via Christmas, but Christmas itself is hardly doomsday, with only a 25% fleet increase. 

Why wouldn't the FAA simply point to the existing 800,000 big quads already in the air instead of fabricating numbers tied to a mythical date, like some demented cult preacher claiming the end of the world next Tuesday? It's very simple. Chicken Little's hysterical (and cynical) peeping about a million quads that are suddenly about to blot out the sun is supposed to scare everyone into accepting whatever it takes to protect us from this horror, without worrying about silly things like due process, checks and balances, let alone logic and reason. Classic and ugly.

But the most important and telling thing about all of this, and the last thing these scheming old-school-soviet-style bureaucrats want anyone to think about, is why, with close to a million quads (plus all the toys, plus all the traditional models) already ripping around in the "national airspace" (Newspeak!) hasn't there been one single serious accident? Not one. And the alleged 700 "near misses" and other "near" this and that have been definitively shown by the AMA to be almost entirely a pack of outright lies by the FAA.

I especially like the breathless report by the FAA of two midair collisions between UAVs and conventional aircraft. Yep, they did indeed actually happen! But the AMA investigation revealed a little detail: These were collisions between military drones and military aircraft. Busted.    

Disclaimers and random comments, in no particular order:

I'm not against safety regulations, and I'm all for tossing any jerk caught molesting a full size aircraft into the cooler for a long stay, using existing law.

My numerical calculations are admittedly speculative but are at least based on some real starting points.

I do not believe that we will remain accident free, but I do believe it is proven now that the risks are very low and manageable without resorting to overbearing, overreaching petty bureaucrats.

I believe education is the key. (that's being done, even by the FAA but more so by the AMA and some major manufacturers (are you listening, 3DR?)

I believe based on the last four years of building and flying quads that the the size of UAVs and their payloads will continue to shrink to the point in the not too distant future where all this will become moot, as a UAV over a kilo will be a rarity. If, that is, the fear-mongers don't halt development.

Fly safe and have fun.

Comment by Philip Giacalone on October 23, 2015 at 4:20am

Yes, I think most everyone agrees that education is part of the solution. Flight limitations in the firmware, too. But these kinds of things aren't happening broadly or consistently enough in the exploding consumer space right now. I agree that 3DR, and the other major manufacturers, are currently part of the problem by not focusing enough on safety issues as a priority. They are their own worst enemies, in a way, as their massive sales successes lead to unintended consequences. This is where regulation will help,  by enforcing consistency across both suppliers and users and a higher attention to safety as a priority, rather than an afterthought. 

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