A task force of companies and interest groups involved with unmanned aerial vehicles issued its final report last week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. While their recommendations don’t automatically become rules of the sky, they may carry some weight as the Federal Aviation Administration moves forward on the topic. The task force, which includes major players like Google, Walmart and Amazon, all who have a stake in getting business-driven opportunities for drones off the ground.
In a report from The Verge, the key point noted is that the task force has recommended a registration, and outlines out registration will work. The key is that drones weighing under 9 ounces don’t post a threat to human life even if they drop out of the sky, so they won’t need to be registered. Anything bigger will be, and The Verge story outlines those rules.
The key is that registration would be over an electronic platform through the web or an app, the owner would get immediate registration and you would simply put that registration number on your UAV. This would be like the N number on a U.S. aircraft.
Oh, and the group is recommending a basic education course be part of the registration process.
TechRepublic outlined some common questions and offered answers in its report on the topic, where it outlines what groups are on the task force. The article also notes that the next step is for FAA to consider the recommendations, along with public comments. FAA is set to announce its “Interim Final Rule” on the registration process in December.
Tech Times reports that registering all drones that weigh more than 9 ounces pretty much means all drones that are little more than toys will have to be registered. The report notes that the task force actually did the math and computed mathematical explanations to justify the weight requirement. The key is that even a light-weight drone falling from the sky could hurt since it would be falling at 57 miles per hour.
Tech Times also notes that beyond the education course the rules require only one operator per UAV, restricting flying at night, no flying beyond line of site (a concern for some drones used in agriculture) and no flights over densely populated areas.
Air Transport World (a sister publication to Farm Industry News) carried a story earlier this month with comments from FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, who commented that the agency wants to “be able to implement something between now and the end of the year.” The story explores the Task Force and their work which led up to the latest recommendations.
ATW also carried a report on the final recommendations, including comments from Academy of Model Aeronautics executive director Dave Mathewson (a member of the Task Force) who criticized the recommendations. Mathewson issued a statement noting that the registration requirement would be an unjustified burden to its 185,000 members. The FAA registration will require owners to link drone registration to a name and physical address.
A Huffington Post article notes that if 1 million people get new drones this holiday season, registering them better be easy. The UAV is going to be a popular gift this holiday season. The story notes that even a small toy – the Flutterbye fairy toy – could be classified as a drone.
For farmers hoping to use UAVs to do more work on their farms, FAA is moving forward, but when final rules will be available remains to be seen.