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Mandatory drone registration rules due to land Monday

Posted at 9:16 AM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 09:16:07-05

WASHINGTON — Just in time for Christmas, the FAA is set to unveil registration requirements for drone ownership on Monday. Consumers are expected to buy about 400,000 drones this holiday season. The Consumer Technology Association said this will be the “defining year” for drone sales. On Monday, the FAA has scheduled a press conference to unveil details for how drones have to be registered in order to fly legally. FAA officials are hoping registration will make drone owners operate the devices more responsibly. It will also make it easier for authorities to track down anyone involved in a drone crash or incident.

“When they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta said in October.

But even Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx conceded that registration is only a “first good point” of getting to know who owns drones. The “bad guys” won’t register their drones, he said.

The responsibility for registering will be with consumers, not manufacturers or retailers.

An FAA task force is recommending that registration be free. The rules would apply to any drone weighing 9 ounces or more, the panel said.

The rules come as concern is growing about the risk posed by drones — to people on the ground as well as to commercial aircraft.

In the last two years, there have been 921 near collisions between drones and manned aircraft, according to a report Friday from the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College.

In 51 of those incidents, the drone got within 50 feet of the aircraft, and in most of those cases the plane had to maneuver to avoid hitting it. Most of those drone operators were violating existing rules that prohibit flights above 400 feet or within five miles of an airport.