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AOPA to help guide drone registration policy

AOPA will help determine the specifics of a new registration policy for drones as part of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force Aviation Rulemaking Committee.

“We’re pleased to have the opportunity to weigh in on these important decisions,” AOPA President Mark Baker said Oct. 26. “The safety of the National Airspace System is paramount, but we also need to ensure that regulations for unmanned aircraft are both right-sized and effective. We want to build a community where drone operators understand how to fly safely in the airspace system and are accountable for doing so. But we don’t want to see needlessly burdensome or costly regulatory requirements stifle the growth and innovation that’s driving this new segment of the aviation community.”

AOPA was invited to serve on the UAS task force following an Oct. 19 announcement by the Department of Transportation and the FAA that the agencies would create a stakeholder panel to provide input on how best to register unmanned aircraft, including those used recreationally.

In laying the groundwork for the task force, the FAA said the move was prompted by exponential growth in the number of reports of UAS flying dangerously close to runways, airports, and manned aircraft. The objective, the agency said, is to create a culture of accountability and responsibility among drone operators.

The task force, which will consist of 25 to 30 members representing government and the manned and unmanned aircraft industries, will be charged with developing recommendations for a registration platform, how to collect registration data, what type of information to collect, when and to whom to provide access to that information, and the best ways to maintain that data. The group also will be asked to provide recommendations about which, if any, UAS should be exempt from the registration requirement because they pose an insignificant threat to the National Airspace System.

The FAA has moved quickly to convene the task force, which has been given until Nov. 20 to present its recommendations. The FAA’s goal is to have registration rules in place ahead of the holiday gift-giving season, when retailers expect to make record sales of drones.

AOPA has long been engaged in UAS-related issues, including the process of regulating small commercial drones. The association also has reached out to groups that represent model aircraft enthusiasts and drone operators regarding the best ways to educate UAS users about airspace, safety, and rules governing their operations.

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