Drone Registration has been a hot topic for several months, as the FAA first announced the idea in October, calling for comments and then assigning a drone registration task force to come up with recommendations. While the drone industry clamors for clear regulations that will support innovation and the burgeoning manufacturing industry in the US, the traditional airline industry – and the vocal airline pilots union – have insisted that drones be heavily regulated and drone flights limited in the national airspace. The FAA has been praised for including representatives of the drone industry, large businesses which may benefit from commercial drone applications, and the airline industry on the drone registration task force.
But it may all have been for show.
Task force participants have at times seemed frustrated with the process. Anonymous members of the task force have twice leaked details of the process to the press, despite the FAA’s requirement for confidentiality. While the list of recommendations was a hard won compromise between the two competing interest groups, Politico reports that FAA insiders – again, anonymous – say that the registration plan due to be published next week ignores the task force recommendations.
Politico reports that sources say “the FAA is considering whether to impose a $5 drone registration fee on consumers, rather than, as the task force advocated, no fee at all. The agency also is looking at whether retailers should bear a greater responsibility for ensuring consumers register the drones they purchase instead of, as the task force suggested, leaving it to drone owners alone to affix a label to the vehicles with their contact information.”
The task force recommendations called specifically for no fee (or a fee of $.001 if a fee were required by law.) Recommendations also called for a simple, clear process of registration based on drone operator rather than drone, in order to accommodate the trading and reselling of drones that is common between hobbyists.
The FAA has said that they would move “quickly and flexibly” towards implementation after receiving the recommendations, and are not bound by the task force’s work.
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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