Mandatory UAV Registration? (DOT Press Conference Notes)

On October 19th, 2015 at 12:30am ET, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) held a press conference concerning a new announcement on the future of small unmanned aerial vehicle regulations.

Also present?

Representatives from AMA, AUVSI, APOA, PrecisionHawk, AirMap, and a handful of other organizations.

I tuned into the live press release as it streamed online to 1400+ other people. Below is a video recording of that press release, and my rough notes on what was said:

Wait, I have to register my drone?

The skinny: The DOT announced that a task force of government leaders and “key stakeholders” are working together on a tight deadline to figure out unmanned aerial vehicle registration.

The task force is supposed to make their recommendation by November 20th, and new regulations are supposed to be implemented in mid-December.

Watching this press release, here are a few things on my mind:

  • The FAA is Beta testing its B4UFLY smart phone app. Other past safety efforts and partnerships mentioned were the No Drone Zone and Know Before You Fly campaigns. I thought the mention of each effort was interesting and hope to see them push forward with the B4UFLY app. I haven’t seen it yet but wonder how it stacks up to
  • This task force and their recommendations will NOT affect the existing 333 exemption process for commercial U.S. drone pilots. Existing exemption holders are already required to get N-numbers for each of their aircraft they fly under the auspices of their exemption, since those aircraft are technically being operated in a commercial capacity.
  • It was specifically stated that the FAA received 4,500+ comments on the proposed NPRM Section 107 in February, and that they still plan to finalize the new small UAS regulations by June of 2016. What they didn’t state was that even if the regulations are finalized by the FAA then, they’ll still have to pass through other regulatory bodies and then eventually make their way through our legislative system to get enacted into enforceable law. It may take a lot longer for the existing 333 exemption process to be updated.
  • I’ll be VERY impressed if they stick to their November 20th deadline of the recommendations being presented, and then mid-December for when they’re enacted.
  • The general plan is to not require every last UAS to be registered. This task force plans to create a weight and size limitation as part of their recommendation. A Hubsan X4 wouldn’t likely require registration, but a DJI Inspire would, even if it’s just being used recreationally.
  • No discussion on registration fees or process. It was mentioned that existing UAS owners would likely have to retroactively register their systems.
  • A lot of good questions were posed, very few of which were answered directly. Seems like the task force has a lot of work to do these next several weeks.

Thoughts? Comment below.


Alan Perlman

Founder at UAV Coach
Alan is an FAA-certified drone pilot and founded UAV Coach in 2014 to help connect drone enthusiasts, to provide world-class sUAS industry training courses, and to help push the drone community forward with a focus on safety and commercial opportunities.

  5 comments for “Mandatory UAV Registration? (DOT Press Conference Notes)

  1. Roy Beasley
    October 21, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I had read Mr. Repprecht’s article before – it is really excellent to point out some of the difficulties that the new regulations will need to address.

    I, likewise, am awaiting the B4UFLY app, and am on the waiting list. Until then, the Hover app seems to work quite well.

    I really appreciate your keeping up with the changing landscape for drones. Still being very new to drones, I find these types of articles very helpful. Please keep up the good work!

  2. R.Morris
    October 21, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    The press conference and proposed regs sound at this point to be center around a “gotcha” approach.

    I’ve been a licensed pilot for many years and understand the need for aircraft safety, knowledge of the airspace, and flying ability. I hope the FAA seriously looks at that end of the problem, too. Safe, trained flyers will mostly not become safety hazards. It certainly helps when flying my drone.

    Also needed is training within the FAA. When I tried to coordinate a flight with our local control tower they had no idea what to do. They said they would have to bump it up to the regional center and to the FSDO. They never got back to me and would not return my calls.

  3. Jayson
    October 21, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    I would be very suprised if authorities here in Australia do not follow suit and make the same registration regulations.

  4. Don J.
    November 23, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    I still don’t understand how the FAA thinks that a radio controlled aircraft should be regulated like a full size aircraft. There have been many stories of pilots seeing “drones” while they are on final approach, I find that very hard to believe, since it is hard to see a quadcopter when it gets a good distance away from me, even when I know it is there, and it is against the sky or clouds. I would like to see the pilots actually spot one against the terrain as they move past at 130kts. They usually cannot even see a flock of birds until the last instance, and if it is one bird, they don’t see it at all.
    I think the FAA needs to get out of passing laws against model airplanes, and instead register laser pointers, or how about registering all guns and ammunition.
    I was wondering if I have to register my Frisbees, my kites, or even my softball, and hardballs, which when propelled by a baseball bat, move at high speeds, out of sight at times, and unmanned, (basically out of control), a projectile that can damage property, and in some cases, cause bodily harm and even death.
    There have been NO accidents,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *