Get ready to register your drone – even if it weighs less than a pound. As we head toward the holiday shopping binge in the US known as “Black Friday,” a national database of registered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) may soon become a reality.
This is one of the recommendations of a task force formed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address how to monitor recreational use of the increasingly popular flying machines. The US government already has rules limiting the commercial use of UAVs, and cargo applications using drones are still only in the testing stages. However, the new rules, if adopted, would apply to recreational drones weighing from as little as one-half pound up to 55 pounds, possibly indicating how seriously the government is concerned about the risk to air safety posed by even the smallest UAV.
A trade group called the Consumer Technology Association predicts that more than 400,000 such drones will be sold this holiday season in the US. The FAA task force recommended entering recreational drones in a national database, with a government-issued number to be applied to each drone. The goal is to create the registry by 20 December, with the FAA responsible for enforcing registration rules and overseeing the database. As might be expected, some have called the proposed rules frivolous and too restrictive, while others say they don’t go far enough to reduce safety risks from drones.
Registration notwithstanding, the FAA’s guidance regarding operation of recreational drones remains: fly them within your line of sight below 400 feet; stay away from manned aircraft and airports; avoid flying near stadiums or other crowded places.