Have a drone? You’re going to have to register it with the government by mid-December.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday announced a new task force that will develop recommendations for a registration process for drones.
“It’s really hard to follow the rules if you don’t know what the rules are and if the rules apply to you,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news conference Monday. “People registering their drones will be exposed to rules and the reasons for those rules.”
Registering drones would force drone operators to go through basic education of drone safety, Foxx said. It would also help the government identify potentially irresponsible pilots.
“If unmanned aircraft operators should break the rules, there should be consequences,” he said. “But there can be no accountability if the person breaking the rules cannot be identified.”
The rules come at a time when drones — and drone crashes — are causing increasing concern. A drone made by Chinese company DJI crashed near the White House earlier this year. San Bernardino County supervisors agreed to offer a $75,000 reward for information in tracking down drone operators who they say interfered with firefighters during three major wildfires in California this summer.
“Finding the drone has not been as much of a problem as finding the person who is using that drone,” Foxx said. “The registration is designed to close that loophole.”
Pilots say “close call” incidents between drones and other aircraft pose one of the biggest threats; nearly 700 “close call incidents” have been reported between January and August of this year. But in most of those incidents, the drone itself was never recovered.
Drone registration wouldn’t help solve the issue of drones interfering with manned aircraft when the drone is never recovered, said Logan Campbell, co-founder of drone consulting firm Aerotas.
“This is targeted toward a select few high-profile incidents,” he said.