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Drone regulation: What you need to know now

Drone regulation: What you need to know now
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

A few months ago, the Federal Aviation Administration announced its plan to require drone owners to register their crafts before flying. This came in response to a series of incidents of drones crashing around people, taking out power lines, nearly colliding with airplanes and interfering with emergency personnel. In many of these cases, law enforcement couldn't track down the owners.

With the news that retailers expect to sell 1 million drones this Christmas alone, the FAA also said it wanted the system in place by Christmas. Given the usual pace of the government in such matters, there were plenty of skeptics it could be done. Drone owners, manufacturers and retailers were also worried that a registration process would stifle drone use. So the FAA set up a task force to come up with suggestions that would work for everyone.

The Unmanned Aircraft System Registration Task Force Aviation Rulemaking Committee is made up of 25 organizations. That includes drone manufacturers like DJI, GoPro and Parrot; research groups like GoogleX; flight organizations like the Air Line Pilots Association and the Helicopter Association International; law enforcement groups like the International Association of Chiefs of Police; and retails like Amazon Prime Air, Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

After a few days of deliberation, it came up with some basic rules it would like to see the FAA adopt. While the FAA doesn't have to use any of these, hopefully it will use the majority of them. So, what recommendations did the task force have?

The task force's first recommendation is that only drones weighing under 55 pounds and more than 250 grams (8.8 oz), that are used outdoors, need to register. So, a toy drone flying inside, or even outside, would be exempt if it's light enough.

To register a drone, you would go to a website and enter your name and street address. The FAA would email you some kind of certificate of registration. You would need to put that registration number on any drones you owned in a visible location. And you would need to keep that certificate with you while operating the drone.

For higher-end drones, you could submit the drone's serial number and use that for identification. In that case, you wouldn't need to add a registration number.

The task force recommends there be no fee to register, and that persons under 13 must have a guardian register for them. And, oddly for a government program, that's about it.

The task force felt it was best to keep the registration process to three simple steps to keep people from ignoring it or stifling drone sales. However, they do recommend that information on safely flying a drone in public airspace be provided during registration, and that the registering person has to acknowledge they either received or reviewed it.

In all, it sounds like a simple enough system that shouldn't be too hard to get running. Whether or not the FAA goes with these recommendations, and can get everything put together by Christmas, is another story.

What do you think about these proposed rules? Do they go too far or not enough? Would they make you think twice about getting a drone? Let us know in the comments.

Speaking of drones, did you know we have two for sale in the Komando Shop? One's a great starter drone for indoor or limited outdoor flying, and the other is more powerful with a built-in HD camera, one-button return, smartphone compatibility and a range of up to 100 meters. Under the proposed rules above, both would be exempt, so no worries about registration. If you buy today, use promo code DRONE10 to save 10%.

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Source: FAA (PDF)
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