The FAA’s Drone Registration Task Force met for the first time yesterday. FAA administrator Michael Huerta opened the meeting with a prepared statement reiterating the task force’s goals and objectives, reminding the group of current regulations and processes, and setting the stage for the force to begin deliberations about a streamlined drone registration process.
After welcoming the group, Huerta cited recent pilot-reported incidents of drones near airplanes and the expected flood of hobbyist drones to the airspace after the holiday buying season as reasons for the Task Force. In his statement, Huerta asked the group to focus on answering 7 questions concerning the registration of drones weighing less than 55 pounds:
How do we make registration as easy as possible for consumers while providing accountability?
What products should we exclude from registration based on weight, speed, altitude and flying time?
What information should we collect during the registration process, and what should we do with the data?
Should every unmanned aircraft sold have its own serial number, or how to tie particular aircraft to a particular user?
Should the process include a formal education component before an aircraft can be registered?
Should registration be retroactive and apply to unmanned aircraft that are now in the system?
Should there be an age requirement for registration?
After making the objectives of the meeting clear, Huerta reviewed the FAA’s current policy of education for operators, including the “Know Before You Fly” program. Huerta then went on to emphasize the FAA’s determination to combine education with punitive measures for non-compliance, citing the FAA’s recent $1.9 million fine against SkyPan International and saying “…This doesn’t mean we’re going easy on enforcement.”
Huerta closed his remarks by exhorting the task force to be expansive and inclusive in their thinking: “Please think big, and think outside the box. Take the interests of all stakeholders, of everyone who will be affected by registration, into consideration, and you need to factor that into your conversations and deliberations. And please – do not worry about achieving perfection. Your ideas will enable us to lay the groundwork for registration, but by no means is it the last word on registration.”
The Task Force will meet as a group for four consecutive days, and then will prepare its findings for presentation to the FAA by November 20.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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