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 Lance Larsen on October 20, 2015 at 11:42am
I don't intend to create a political issue here, I'm just stating verifiable FACTS. Obama said that he intended to use REGULATION instead of laws to implement whatever he wants (much like a king). And this is what he has done. He simply makes a call to someone whom he has appointed to be in charge of a government body and tells them what he wants done. He knows they won't tell him "No", and this way it doesn't have to be debated or voted on. He just gets his way--like a king.

It says in the blog that the government will make it "quick and easy" for UAS companies ($$$). Once again, our country is in the mess it's in because there are two groups who are represented, and they are NEVER represented EQUALLY like the Constitution intended. In short, they once again say "Individuals, you are screwed. Industry, how can we possibly make this any easier for you? Please deposit $$$$$$ in this pocket." And yet we continue to re-elect this trash. Which dynasty do we choose from this time? The Clinton's or the Bush's? "Thank you sir, may I have another? [KICK]. Thank you sir, may I have another? [KICK]..." And, once again, we accept what we are given. And, BTW, I don't support any party or any person. Not ONE of the current lot of pukes in the running right now is deserving of even a SINGLE vote. They have absolutely no humility, decency, and don't care ONE BIT about the ones who SHOULD be in power--the PEOPLE!!! Not industry, nor any other special interest group! Our country has finally played out. It no longer listens to its people! This is but one of MANY examples of that. I'm afraid I'll have to write in "Daffy Duck" this election. That's just how absurd it's gotten. What a joke--and it's not even a funny one.

And does anyone actually believe that "we the people" will get ANY benefit from this whatsoever? Will we be allowed above the precious 400 foot limit now? Will we be able to make a simple call to the FAA to let them know that we will be taking photos of crop land, or shooting video? If I want to do a parachute drop, erect a crane, put up an antenna or fly a glider in a particular area I can do that. But not a UAV.

And lastly, let's try to make some REAL sense out of this. With all this complaining we hear, how many people in an aircraft have actually been injured by UAS's? Zero, as far as I know. Now, how many people have actually been injured by a laser shined on an aircraft? I don't know the answer to that, but I am sure it's more than zero. And ANYONE can go on eBay and get a RIDICULOUSLY powerful laser and just wave it around the skies at night like an inconsiderate moron! SO WHEN CAN WE EXPECT THE GOVERNMENT TO REQUIRE ALL LASERS TO BE REGISTERED???!!!

It always goes this way with government, because they just don't have the capability to reason, apparently. When a small minority abuses something they ALWAYS react by punishing the INNOCENT. Why not punish the GUILTY? If the police are going to be hassling people flying a UAS (and don't you just LOVE trying to maintain control of an RC aircraft when someone is hassling you?) how about if they hassle the ones who are actually causing a problem!

Fight this! And if it does happen, and is a hassle, then protest it! Heck, start now. Write a LETTER to ALL your representatives (e-mail is ignored, MAIL is not). Write it with a PEN (typed and printed letters are ignored as form letters). Be polite, and tell them what you want. Suggest how they can best SERVE YOU if they would like to stay in office.

Personally, I might just pick random places to go out with nothing but a transceiver. Then just fiddle with the controls and enjoy the sky. If a cop hassles me I'll either hand them my transceiver (and enjoy the look on their face) or just leave. With nothing but a transceiver in hand (no UAS) nobody is in danger.

But you do what you choose. JUST BE POLITE ABOUT IT. Don't be stupid, like the ones who caused this.
Comment by Keith G on October 20, 2015 at 12:25pm
Here's my question. If a "drone" of any sort, plane, MR, or helicopter, flies into a airplanes engine, how would registering it hold anyone accountable. I'm certain that my styrofoam airplane and plastic pixhawk would be tiny pulverized bits spread over two miles. I seriously doubt and registration information could be retrieved. Now if it smashes against the windshield of a small private aircraft and the pilot crashes they may find my smashed plane.

It doesn't matter though. This is happening. I follow the rules so there will ,hopefully, be no restriction to what I've always done. My problem with the idea is the added cost. If it's $10 then it's no big deal. But this is the U.S. Government so I doubt it will be reasonable in cost or structure.

The other negative aspect here is the massive amount of negative publicity this is causing. People already look at you as though you are trying to spy on them when they see you flying a MR. Now they will also think you want to endanger passenger aircraft while spying on them.

All we can do at this point is hope the process isn't limiting our ability to fly with ridiculous height and distances restrictions.
Comment by Steve Zeets on October 20, 2015 at 1:33pm
Comment by Rick Steele on October 20, 2015 at 2:06pm

Hey FAA and DOT I have a novel idea, how about some broad spectrum PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS describing the common sense UAS, UAV, Drone, Commercial and hobby aircraft guidelines we already have in place like Know Before you Fly as an example with some examples of what could happen if you don't follow them.

Would this not be much less expensive then creating a huge new rushed expensive government bureaucracy to register a million Christmas Toys that might provide very limited results if any. Especially since a large portion of the FAA complaints are no more than hyped up UFO reports being blamed on drones by a great number of people that may have their own hidden agenda. 

This is after all America. A great Nation where we innovate, design and create the greatest technology in the world.

Comment by Philip Giacalone on October 20, 2015 at 2:21pm

There is a rising threat to manned aircraft due to a growing number of irresponsible and uneducated drone users who fly where they shouldn't. The evidence and consensus about this rising threat is overwhelming. This fact is not only damaging the reputation of the drone industry and drone pilots, but is also forcing the government to act. 

Chris Anderson made the air safety threat crystal clear in his recent article about the rise of mass jackassery in the hobby drone.... As Chris stated in that article: 

"[It's] bad and it's going to get worse. And if we don't do something about it, no one's been killed yet, but someone's going to do something really stupid."

So now it's up to the drone manufacturers, the government, and all of us drone pilots to work together to make and accept sensible changes to improve safety.

This new government regulation is a good first step, imo. It's aimed at increasing the awareness of drone owner responsibilities, many of whom have no idea how to fly or how to do so responsibly.

For those of us already flying safely per the AMA Code, the new registration requirement will have no impact on how we fly our drones. It is expected to contain wording similar to the existing AMA Code, along with an agreement to abide by those rules. This additional agreement should be no big deal for the responsible pilots here. We can continue flying just like we always have. 

We are flying our drones in shared airspace. And since the number of hobby drones is skyrocketing, the societies we live in are starting to request changes aimed at enhancing the safety of the shared space. Yes, governments are way behind the technological curve. Yes, they're often too slow to respond. As a result, those changes are still evolving and will take more time to be fully worked out. 

If you travel by air, this new regulation will benefit you and all the other passengers by reducing the chance of an air accident involving a drone. Is the chance of a drone air accident low? Yes. And it will be even lower if fewer jackass pilots are added to our ranks. Yes. And that's the government's worthy goal. 

Things will get much uglier for this entire hobby if Chris Anderson's fears about an accident come true. 

We each have a choice to become a part of the solution. For some hobbyists, a mindset shift seems to be needed in order to accept some of the inevitable changes we're about to see. This is just the first. 

Comment by Todd Hill on October 20, 2015 at 2:34pm

@ Philip, well said!

Comment by Philip Giacalone on October 20, 2015 at 2:56pm

@Todd - Thank you. 

BTW, if anyone is interested in getting a good sense of where the government and industry is headed in terms of new regulations and other changes, I'd recommend watching a few congressional hearings on cspan.org. Just search for "drone".

The great thing about these hearings is that thoughtful, expert testimony is given by representatives from many different sides: AMA, ALPA, FAA, academia, manufacturers, etc. You'll also notice that all of the experts have the same primary concerns. Namely, air safety (the #1 concern for all), along with allowing drone innovations and technological competitiveness to thrive.

The hearings may be boring to some but it's a great way to understand the serious discussions and considerations driving the changes for this industry and hobby. 

Comment by Toby Mills on October 20, 2015 at 4:05pm

My issue with registration is that it is focussed on post incident blame.
If they spent the same amount of money on setting good rules and then a massive education program then you would not need to worry about post incident blame because there would be no or fewer incidents.

Registration is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

Comment by Tony Kenward on October 20, 2015 at 4:23pm

Lance:  I don't intend to create a political issue here, I'm just stating verifiable FACTS. Obama said that he intended to use REGULATION instead of laws to implement whatever he wants (much like a king).


Philip:  You are a voice of rational analysis in a sea of hysteria and hype.  Good on ya' mate!

Comment by Nathaniel Caner on October 20, 2015 at 4:34pm

As long as I don't need to register each individual aircraft accompanied by a fee, I'm ok with it. If I had to pay a registration fee for each aircraft I own, I'd go broke! I've been in this hobby for over 25 years, and as anybody who has been in the hobby for any length of time knows, you tend to accumulate aircraft.

I think it's dubious that registration will help connect sightings of "drones" to pilots operating them. What it might do however is make an other wise law abiding citizen think twice about where and how high they fly.

Those who do these moronic things that jeopardize our hobby are unlikely to register their aircraft in my opinion, which means that those if us who follow the rules can expect a knock on our doors asking us where we were on such and such a date and time, and can we prove it!

The only way this database will have any useful purpose, would be in the event the aircraft crashed and survived with it's registration number intact. As was already pointed out, in a serious incident say at 1000 ft on approach to a major airport, the odds of recovering a "drone" for identification would be next to nil.

If the requirement is only that the pilot receives a single registration number that they can then attach to all vehicles they own, I think that would be a much better system. The problem after all isn't the aircraft, it's the pilots. Like NRA members like to say, "guns don't kill people, people kill people".


Nathaniel ~KD2DEY


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