Why the federal government wants all drones to be registered

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Drone flying in the air

10/20/2015 | Author: Editorial Staff

On October 19, federal regulators announced a plan to require recreational drone operators to register their aircraft. This means if you fly a drone as a hobby or are learning to fly so you can one day use it in your business, you may have to register your drone with the government as a recreational user. Approved commercial drone operators already register their aircraft through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Section 333 Exemption process.

The new registration process and requirements are yet to be outlined. A task force composed of representatives from the federal government, the aviation industry, and the unmanned aircraft industry will be commissioned to make recommendations for the process by November 20 so the government can launch the registry in December. In addition to making recommendations for recreational drone registration requirements, the task force will decide if certain drones, such as toys and other small aircraft with low safety risks, will need to be registered.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at a press conference yesterday that while unmanned aircraft have the potential to “transform transportation, commerce, and quality of life,” drones have also posed safety issues, such as flying too close to airplanes and airports and interfering with wildfire operations. Foxx said registration for hobbyists will ensure these drone operators are held accountable for understanding and following regulations. Foxx also said registration would apply to current drone owners, not just those who purchase drones after the registration process is implemented.

Categories: Business tips
Tags: drones


Blair Bachman on 11/11/2015

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (the “FMRA”), is a collection of orders from Congress to the FAA. Sections 331 through 336 dictate what the FAA may and may not do, and shall or shall not do with respect to drone regulation. But the FMRA applies to the FAA only. The FMRA contains certain drone-specific language that will apply to the general public at some point in the future, but it does not currently apply to the general public.
That’s very important to note. All of what the FAA, and a handful of former FAA attorneys who parrot what the FAA touts as “the law,” is based upon the FMRA, which doesn’t even apply to the general public.
In November 2014, the NTSB held that drones are “aircraft,” as the word is defined under federal statutes and regulations, and therefore, FAR 91.13 (the regulatory prohibition of careless or reckless aircraft operations) applies to drones. Although the FAA asserts that all FARs apply to drones, in the NTSB’s decision, the Board did not expressly hold that any other FAR applies to drones. The relevant portion of FAR 91.13 reads:
“No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.”
At this writing, there exist no currently enforceable federal statutes or regulations that apply to the general public other than [1] FAR 91.13, (in accordance with the NTSB’s November 2014 ruling) and [2] all FARs that prohibit or restrict all aircraft from flying within certain airspace.
Right now, the only thing that applies to model aircraft (other than FAR part 91.13 as described above), is Advisory Circular 91-57 (“AC 91-57”), published in 1981. AC 91-57 is a voluntary guidance document.
In June 2014, the FAA issued its Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.
Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association (March 9 2015), the Supreme Court held that agency interpretations of statutes and regulations are not legislative rules, and accordingly do not require agencies to follow the APA’s notice and comment procedures. The Court further held that as non-legislative rules, agency interpretations do not have the force and effect of law, and only indicate to the public what an agency perceives the law to be.

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