Last updated: 06:51 PM ET, Thu October 22 2015

FAA Drone Registration: How Will It Work?

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | October 20, 2015

FAA Drone Registration: How Will It Work?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The growth of drone use by the general public has grown so quickly that it has remained one of the least regulated parts of flight by the Federal Aviation Administration.

That’s all about to change.

The FAA has announced that all civilian drones will now have to be registered as part of a plan to keep better tabs on the devices and their owners. Drones have interfered with manned aircraft, including coming perilously close to major airports in recent months. One even crashed into an empty part of the main stadium at the National Tennis Center last month during a match at the U.S. Open. Fortunately, it crashed into a part of the stands that was unoccupied at the time.

While a registry for drones sounds similar to registering a car or a gun, it nonetheless will require a joint task force from the U.S. Transportation Department and the FAA to determine which classes of unmanned aircraft must be registered.

“The signal we’re sending today is that when you enter the national airspace, it's a very serious matter,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at a news conference.

The requirement would apply to new drone buyers; people who already own drones will have to register as well, but only after a timeline is created by the task force.

Interestingly, the task force will include not only aviation groups and drone manufacturers, but hobbyist associations as well. Recommendations are due Nov. 20; a policy is expected to be implemented by end of year.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the popularity and proliferation of drones shows no sign of slowing down. The Consumer Electronics Assn. expects 2015 to be “a defining year for drones,” with sales approaching 700,000, a 63 percent increase from the previous year.

"These reports signal a troubling trend,” FAA Administrator Michael 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.”

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