Mandatory UAV Registration? (DOT Press Conference Notes)

BY Alan Perlman
21 October 2015

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 Hover.io.
  • 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 & CEO

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.

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