The Federal Aviation Administration task force looking into registration requirements for unmanned aerial systems came out with their recommendations over the weekend.
The FAA is expected to act quickly on these recommendations. If you've seen the Black Friday ads or read my article last week, then you know it's conceivable that as many as 1 million UASs could be sold just over the holiday season. I suspect by New Year's Day, the cable news networks will be filled with stories of drones crashing into unsuspecting people, vehicles and so on.
Once a presidential candidate ties drones to jihadists, drug cartels --- or worse, EPA --- you can imagine the level of scrutiny over unmanned aerial systems will intensify quickly.
The task force recommended users of drones (unmanned aerial systems UAS, or unmanned aerial vehicles UAV) would have to fill out an electronic form through the web or a smartphone applications. They would immediately receive a certification of registration and a "personal universal registration number" for all UASs owned by that person. Those people would then be responsible for marking each of their unmanned systems with that serial number before it can be taken into the air.
The group also recommended exempting any unmanned aircraft weighing less than 250 grams (roughly 8.8 ounces). According to the report, there was some division among the task force on this because some countries don't require registration for drones weighing up to one or two kilograms.
The task force also recommended that registration be free, or if the FAA is required to charge a fee, then it should be one penny. Seriously, that's what they went with there.
Registration would not require details such as an email address or phone number, or status of citizenship or residency. It would require a minimum age of 13 to register.
The baseline for these details is that any unmanned aerial system weighing under 55 pounds and being operated outdoors would need to be registered in the National Airspace System (NAS). Because of the lack of data on crashes, engine issues, etc., the task force came to the conclusion that an easy to understand registration process was the best option.
The task force spent considerable time on the weight issue, seeking to distinguish between a "toy" and a UAS. Some on the task force wanted no exemptions. It should be noted that practically all UASs used in agriculture would exceed that suggested 8-ounce (250 grams) weight.
The task force also recommended FAA revise its penalties for lack of registration. Currently, it's penalties can exceed $25,000 for lack of registration. Those penalties were meant to deal with drug traffickers, tax evaders and the like. The task force recommended penalties be changed to be considered more reasonable and proportionate.
The full task force report can be found at http://www.faa.gov/…
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