Drone Task Force Recommends Simple Registration Process for Owners

NEWS ANALYSIS: The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force recommends making the drone registration process as easy as possible to encourage compliance.

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The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force delivered its much-anticipated recommendations for drone registration to the Federal Aviation Administration on schedule, Nov. 20. The recommendations will likely form the basis for the FAA's new rules for drone registration, which are slated to go into effect shortly before Christmas 2015.

The recommendations aren't onerous. While there may be some changes in the final regulations, the task force recommendations urge the FAA to adopt a Web-based application process that would also allow access via applications on mobile phones and other mobile devices. The registration applies to owners of drones, rather than to manufacturers or sellers.

Drone owners would be required to register, but only one registration per owner would be required. The registration would apply regardless of the number of drones a person owns.

The owner would be required to display the registration number somewhere on their drones where it can be seen clearly and where it would not require the use of tools to access. The registration number can be displayed on the outside of the drone's body, or it can be inside, perhaps inside a battery compartment, provided tools aren't required to bring it into view.

The task force also recommends that device serial numbers, where they exist, be allowed in drone registration instead of numbers assigned by the FAA. That would mean that if the serial number could be found somewhere on the outside of the drone, or behind a cover that could be opened without tools, then it could be used instead of one assigned by the FAA.

The drone registration, which would apply to any flying object in the national airspace, would apply to any unmanned aircraft weighing more than 250 grams (about 8.8 ounces). The idea behind the specific weight is based on a series of calculations performed by the task force.

You can see the calculations in the report, and they don't require anything beyond simple math to follow. The assumption is that things weighing less than a half pound aren't likely to kill anyone if they fall from the sky and they aren't likely to hurt a jet engine if ingested.

The size rule applies to any drone weighing less than 55 pounds and more than a half-pound. Drones operated only inside buildings aren't subject to registration because if they fly inside a building, then they're not in the national airspace.

The task force went to a lot of trouble to make the rules as easy to follow as possible. This is the reason for the Web-based registration recommendation that only asks the owner's name and address.

While other information can be entered, including an owner's phone number and email address, and of course the drone's serial number, all of that is optional. Also optional is the location of the registration number, as long as it can be seen without tools.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...