NBC News reports today that the US Transportation Department will announce Monday its plan to require drone registration for all consumer drones. If you buy a drone this Christmas, you may have to register it before you can fly it. The US Transportation Department declined to comment, stating only that they would release a statement on Monday; but the rumor earlier this month would appear to be true, drone registration will be required by the holiday season.
Reportedly, the Transportation Department will convene a task force next week to establish the specific requirements of the registration program. The task force will be expected to deliver recommendations the following week. The extremely short time frame represents an effort to put policy in place by Christmas.
The news comes as a blow to drone advocates, as Michael Drobac, head of the lobbying group Small UAV Coalition, told the Wall Street Journal. “This is consistent with what I think they’re doing, unfortunately, which is fear mongering…I think [regulators] are trying to create the impression that drones are more dangerous than they are,” said Drobac. Drone advocates have long argued that codification of drone regulations and education of drone operators would be more effective than cumbersome licensing or registration systems.
Currently, drones are not required to be registered, considered “hobby aircraft.” “Hobby aircraft” are required to fly below 400 ft, but drones are clearly easily able to exceed that altitude restriction. The move by the Transportation Department is the latest in a flurry of activity from government agencies to attempt to track and control drone flight near airports or government buildings.
Drone registration is a unique move by the Transportation Department as they try to ensure a safe during one of the largest holiday seasons for drones.