Tuesday, October 20, 2015

About Damned Time FAA Mandates Registration for Drones!

The days of cowboy drone operators should be nearly at an end - as federal regulators said Monday they would require most recreational drones to be registered in the wake of a growing number of incidents. In addition, the near collisions with commercial aircraft have increased from 238 last year to 969 this year. This above all likely prompted the push now - especially with Xmas coming- to get registration regulations in place.

Thus it is more than past time the FAA and Transportation Dept. move on this given more than 700,000 of the little bastards are projected to be sold for Xmas. Thus, the feds will rush to get the rules in place before a season in which the small aircraft are expected to be popular gifts. The only drones likely to escape the demand for registration are virtual toys with "minimal safety risk".

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said:

Registering unmanned aircraft will help build a culture of accountability and responsibility, especially with new users who have no experience operating in the U.S. aviation system, It will help protect public safety in the air and on the ground,"

Which is putting  it mildly, especially after recent close encounter sightings with commercial aircraft, as well as the  nuisances buzzing near the White House and another crashing into a child's lawn party. It's about damned time these wretched, out of control machines were seriously regulated. We can't wait for a drone- airplane crash killing hundreds, especially when we are hyper-aware regarding potential terrorist strikes.And I don't think even registration is adequate. Every would-be drone operator should have a pilot's license too - so be forced to pass a pilot's test, requiring up to 40 hours of test flight practice under the belt (as the original FAA rules had proposed).. If they can't handle it, tough shit, no droning!

According to a WSJ piece ('Drones Face New Regulatory Push', Oct. 19, p. B4):, the Transportation Dept. "plans to create a Task Force of more than two dozen government and industry representatives to recommend the specifics of a registration policy - including which drones should be included, how users will register and whether the rules will apply to drones already sold."

Of course, ALL 969 of the commercial  air encounters were a result of "drones already sold" - hence it stands to reason they all need to be registered. Among the data that needs to be included:

- Photo and full name of the user

- Social Security no. or state ID no. of all users

- Full address of the user(s)

In fact, at the time of purchase, each drone user(other than toy versions with minimal range)  ought to be registered just like guns currently.

Foxx said he wanted to have the registration requirement in place by the middle of December, but I don't see why it can't be done earlier. .Foxx said he also expected that those who already own the aircraft would also be required to register within an undetermined period of time. Let's just hope it's within weeks not months or years!

Foxx and Michael Huerta, the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, were joined in the announcement by representatives of several organizations involved in the drone debate. They included the Association  for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the Academy of Model Aircraft and the Air Line Pilots Association, who all expressed support for the registration requirement.

The FAA said it receives reports every day of potentially unsafe drone operations and that sightings by pilots of drones doubled this year compared with last year. (Actual stats secured by CBS and the Washington Post showed this to be an underestimate, the sighting reports in fact nearly quadrupled.)  Last month, the FAA said it would also investigate an incident in which debris from a small privately owned drone fell and injured an 11-month-old girl in a stroller on a Pasadena street.

Police found the owner of the drone at the accident site and he said he lost control of the aircraft. But often, it's difficult to identify the owner of a drone, Foxx said..

"Finding the drone has not been as much of a problem as finding the person who was using the drone. The registration is designed to close that loophole,"

It's time we put all the worst drone scofflaws behind bars (preferably at 'SuperMax' as we would  terrorists who'd bring down planes with shoe bombs.  We'd  hold terrorists responsible for bringing down a plane with a shoe bomb or similar device, we ought to do no less for a drone jackass flying his gizmo near an airport..

This registration mandate will ensure we can track all the drone scofflaws and implement sanctions as appropriate including confiscation and heavy fines.

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