The Federal Aviation Administration wants to register all unmanned aircraft systems (UAS or “drones”) and wants to do it as quickly as possible.
A task force will recommend which drones will be mandated for registration and give its suggestions on the process. It will also look at toys and small drones to see if they should be exempt.
“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,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “It will help protect public safety in the air and on the ground.”
The task force is expected to file the report Nov. 20.
The fear, as the popularity of drones soars, is for the safety of people and airspace. A drone crashing into a person could cause serious injury. A larger drone could get sucked into an plane’s engine in flight.
Right now the rules for recreational users limit flight above 400 feet and over “sensitive” areas, such as power stations or government facilities. But with the applications for drones increasing, the FAA needs to get ahead of potential problems.
Registration is a justified idea, but its execution could become a colossal undertaking. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that more than 700,000 drones will be sold by the end of the year.
The FAA needs to create a plan for reaching the long-term goal and start working on it immediately after the task force turns in its recommendations. It might encounter some turbulence, but the right plan could make for a mostly smooth journey.