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 Tony Kenward on October 20, 2015 at 4:46pm

Nathaniel, NRA, et al:  People kill people, people kill themselves. . . sure, with lethal methods.  

A stick is lethal.  A rock is lethal.  A stick and rock together are more lethal still.

A .22 long rifle is lethal.  

An AR-15 is extremely lethal.  

A cruise missile is catastrophically lethal.

Get it?

   (and, no, you cannot have a cruise missile dude)

Comment by Philip Giacalone on October 20, 2015 at 4:54pm

@Tony - Thanks, much appreciated.

Coming from the aerospace industry gives one an understanding and appreciation for the industry's primary directive around human safety. It's why flight has such an admirable and amazing safety record. Flight is one of the most challenging activities humans have ever attempted. Despite this difficulty, the safety record of the aerospace industry is incredible. That is not by accident. It takes dedicated people who focus on safety. 

Many drone owners don't seem to realize the mindset of the aerospace profession. It's really very simple: Human safety first and foremost. They'll continue to do whatever it takes to maintain and improve safety. 

Comment by Nathaniel Caner on October 20, 2015 at 5:06pm


Not sure where you were going with that...but my point was simply that the vehicles aren't the problem. By themselves they don't pose a threat to anyone. It's the operator that puts the aircraft in harms way (fly aways aside).


Nathaniel ~KD2DEY

Comment by Tony Kenward on October 20, 2015 at 5:12pm

Philip:  Unfortunately, there no longer seems to be any 'experts'.  The anti-science crowd seems to believe that every scientist/engineer is out to get them these days, and only their own 'common sense' prevails.

Just as in aircraft design, we will see a tiered system of FAA regulations coming out of the working group.  We have the LSA light-sport certification rules (applicant showing), and have already seen more performance based criteria for the Part 23 aircraft (less than 12,500 gross).  There is a higher expectation that large airliners are safer than a Cirrus single engine, and that is what the rules require.

It's also about assumed risk.  I know my Kawasaki dirtbike is not designed as safe as my F-150.  I don't ride my dirtbike through rush hour school zones.

We need to decide whether we want to sit at the table and help craft some realistic criteria, or we are going to sit behind computers and pout that Obama won the '08 election? . . . 

Comment by Gary McCray on October 20, 2015 at 5:13pm

Listening to you guys talk about sane and reasonable regulations is interesting, but please understand, that the bulk of this DIYDrones group has just come through 2 years of the FAA literally trying to wipe us off the face of the earth.

And they have been anything but rational and the only reason we still exist is the mandate of Congress for them not to make RC models illegal, the AMA's tireless work to keep us from being plowed under and the relentless voice of our own demanding reasonable actions.

To call us over the top hysteria mongers illustrates how ignorant you are of the preceding process and of the FAAs own actions.

The FAA and DOT and many members of government for various reasons would be happy to stomp our hobby into oblivion and along with it affordable commercial UAS use as well.

Most of these reasons are not related to safety, but to insuring that the big buck government contrac UAS companies get all or almost all of the UAS business because everybody else is locked out.

This is not paranoia this is business at the mil tech government level.

I hate this ongoing hypocrisy, but it is endemic in every bit of large corporate America these days.

Only by being heard loudly and unavoidably do we have the slightest chance of not simply being plowed under.

Wake up!

Best regards,


Comment by Wyatt Earp on October 20, 2015 at 5:18pm

i agree. if we have to pay fees to register.. and are required to get insurance aka ama and join a club... no way...

clubs cost $35 to sign up plus $60 a year.. ama is $72 a year.. then registration??? and whos to say you wont have to register every single year if you own it.. since its the dot.. i bet they are gonna try that.. oh its a vehicle lol.....

so thats alot of money just to have fun.... us old timers .. dont do thos crazy things.. i dont even fly my 450 quad because the media and jerks that caused this issue.. i get people coming up to me going does that have a camera omg omg.. and harassed.. plus the parks are always full of soccer people.. there taking over my town.. no park is truly free.. so what option is left... 1 stinking fly club for me that prolly dont accept drones because they are fixed wing only.. and what does that cost you guess it 60 a year plus 35 to join.. i mean yea ill have a air feild i can go to anytime i want..

now if they make it free and you dont need insurance .. then cool...

sure ill sign all my stuff up....

Comment by Tony Kenward on October 20, 2015 at 5:23pm

uhhhhhm, Gary. . . I have been flying RC for a couple decades too.  I didn't get the "wipe us off the face of the Earth" memo.  Just calling us "ignorant" doesn't educate us very much.

We are engineers.  We are data-driven type individuals.

Comment by Philip Giacalone on October 20, 2015 at 5:35pm

@Nathaniel - I agree that the registration cost needs to be kept very low. I expect they'll try to keep the cost to a bare minimum, since they understand and appreciate the impacts on enthusiasts like yourself. 

As for your point about the pilots, there are 4 categories of pilots the rule makers talk about: 1) Responsible, 2) Irresponsible, 3) Uneducated, and 4) Malicious. This registration requirement is squarely aimed at educating the irresponsible and uneducated pilots by formally having them read and accept the rules and the penalties. In that regard, it will inform and notify, thereby making people aware of their responsibilities, and think twice before doing something stupid or dangerous.

The penalties for causing an accident by intentionally flying irresponsibly will be huge and will also include serious jail time. As a result, registration will certainly reduce the number of dangerous flights simply by getting each drone owner's full attention. 

As for malicious pilots (#4), the legislators and stakeholders are fully aware that registration will have zero effect. Malicious actors are a completely different issue not addressed by this new rule. Fortunately, this is a much smaller issue since the vast majority of people are not malicious. 

Comment by Mike Tassey on October 20, 2015 at 6:08pm

That was an interesting constituency of "stakeholders" to say the least.  Anybody know if they will be requiring all Canadian Geese to register as well?  

You know, because as far as I can figure they have caused more incidents and aircraft fatalities than all recorded hobby drone strikes in history.

This regulatory change has little to do with safety...  seems to me to be a much less noble aim that drives this

Comment by Nathaniel Caner on October 20, 2015 at 6:21pm

So basically Pilots in category #1 foot the bill to pay for educating everyone in categories #2 and #3. Nice....not. I don't think registration is a bad idea, I just don't think it's right to require me to register each and every aircraft separately. If education is the goal, how does that improve my education. Somehow I have a sinking feeling the DOT and FAA's idea of what constitutes a "bare minimum" cost will differ from mine.

I agree completely that something must be done. This just seems like a band aid being put on a severed artery. The problem with programs like this is they keep taking the money forever, but the level of service for the fee declines with time. It ends up just being a source of funding for other pet projects.

I'm tired of feeling helpless while someone else imposes more restrictions on my recreational activity. I play by the rules and stand by helpless as day after day others fly irresponsibly and draw unwanted attention in the media to a relative minority (though highly irresponsible) segment of the hobby.


Nathaniel ~KD2DEY


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