The U.S. Secretary of Transportation held a press conference today announcing that a new registration system for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) (including hobby aircraft) should be in place by mid-December.
The Secretary announced that he had created a task force comprising 25 to 30 representatives from the UAS industry, government, and the manned airline industry. He assembled the task force in response to numerous safety concerns arising from the increasing use of UAS in the U.S. airspace. He has directed the task force to report its recommendations to the Secretary by November 20. The recommendations will include advice on which aircraft should be exempt from registration due to a low safety risk. This would perhaps include very small or "toy" aircraft.
Nonetheless, the Secretary stated that the registration requirement will apply to hobby aircraft. The Secretary stated that the new registration requirement will reinforce the need for all users to "operate drones safely." When asked about the Department's authority to regulate hobby aircraft, the Secretary stated that this was a registration system, not a licensing system. He said this registration system would align with federal law requiring all aircraft to be registered.
The Secretary noted that this new registration system should not delay finalization of small UAS rules that have been pending since February. Rather, he said that he expects those rules to be finalized by June of 2016.
As always, we will keep you posted.
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