Monday, November 23, 2015
FAA Already Has Drone Registry Rule in Works
Top FAA and U.S. Transportation Dept. officials already have already begun reviewing a draft rule requiring registration of small, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). A department-created task force on the topic delivered recommendations Nov. 21 after its 25 participating organizations unanimously agreed on them, according to the director of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office, Earl Lawrence. But U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx set a tight timeline when he created the task force: have a registration mechanism in place by the Christmas holidays, when consumers are expected to purchase 700,000-plus small drones. So Lawrence, who served as the “designated federal officer” and co-chair of the task force, said the FAA drew on that body’s deliberations and more than 4,500 public comments submitted on drone registration to draft a proposed rule in parallel with the task force’s talks. Lawrence’s co-chair, Dave Vos of Google X, the research arm of the technology and Internet services company Google, said the talks involved “long and very painful debates,” but the panel reached compromises on all points with no dissenting opinions. As for when a final Federal Aviation Regulation on drone registration might be issued, Lawrence said, “There is no timeline.” It would have to be aligned with other regulations, reviewed and approved by everyone from the FAA administrator to the White House, briefed to Congress and submitted again for public comment. As for the task force recommendations, they include a call for registration of all drones that weigh from 0.55 lb to 55 lb. (Heavier drones already must be registered.) They also said small drone registration should be free and as easy as possible. The full recommendations can be viewed here.