A government task force created to recommend registration guidelines for recreational drones wrapped up three days of meetings in Washington Thursday. It plans to call for owners of drones weighing more than half a pound to register online, according to multiple members of the task force speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss freely the private deliberations. This process would take place through apps or Web sites, including those of manufacturers, so retailers would not be burdened with having to complete a registration process at the point of sale.
The information collected would include the owner’s name and address. In the event of a rogue drone, that would give the FAA a better opportunity to track down its owner. An e-mail address would be collected if the drone owner chose to share it to receive updates on drone rules. The group discussed requiring more detailed information such as Social Security numbers and date of birth, but decided against it.
Drones would be required to display a registration number that’s easily accessible to a person handling the drone. These recommendations are being kept broad, and not making specific suggestions on a font size or style.
No fees would be charged for registration, so as to encourage as close to 100 percent participation as possible.
The FAA is not obligated to adopt the recommendations, but formed the group as its rushes to implement a system that would encourage the safe use of drones ahead of the holiday season, in which drones are expected to be a popular gift.
Pilots have reported increased sightings of drones, and they have at times interfered with wildfire fighting. Drones sales are also growing, with projections that 700,000 will be sold this year.
Such a registration system wouldn’t be perfect, but it would provide an improvement over the present situation, which one task force member described as a wild west. They expect the registration of drones would discourage some bad behavior, and provide an opportunity to educate owners on how to fly safely.
The FAA set a deadline of Nov. 20 for the task force to finalize its recommendations. Some of those in the room described the atmosphere as collaborative and including trade-offs and compromises to arrive at a package deal. The most conversation focused on settling on an appropriate weight cutoff for registration.
The task force, which met at the FAA, consists of government officials, drone manufacturers, tech companies and aviation experts. It was chaired by Earl Lawrence, the director of the FAA’s drone integration office and Dave Vos, who leads Google’s drone efforts.