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Registering Drones With Big Bro to Be as Smooth as Obamacare?

Image: Registering Drones With Big Bro to Be as Smooth as Obamacare?
A drone observes as Phil Mickelson prepares to hit a tee shot during the 2015 PGA Championship golf tournament. (Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

By    |   Monday, 19 Oct 2015 07:46 AM

The U.S. government will soon require tech enthusiasts to register their drones with the Department of Transportation, but many suspect the infrastructure to do so will not meet a proposed end-of-the-year deadline. Think Obamacare.

"The government has been concerned about the rise in close calls between unmanned drones and aircraft flying into and out of some of the nation's biggest airports," NBC News reported.

"In July, there was a dangerously close encounter between a drone and a passenger jet with 159 people aboard setting up to land at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport."

According to a draft news release from the government reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, all private, non-commercial drones "except for toys and those with minimal safety risk" will be subject to the registration rules. The rules aim to "create a culture of accountability" for operators. Commercial drones are expected to be regulated separately.

The rules for private drones are likely to be crafted by the end of the year, an unusually accelerated timeline for government regulations in general and aviation regulations in particular.

Jim Williams, who retired in June as the top drone official at the Federal Aviation Administration, said, "It would be the most amazing feat of governance I’ve seen in my 33 years in the federal government," if the rules were completed by Christmas.

"After 10 years of rule making, we suddenly have this scramble to do something within a month, which is terribly short under any circumstances," said Brendan Schulman, head of policy at China’s SZ DJI Technology Co., which sells four-rotor copter-drones called Phantoms.

In addition to the challenge of an accelerated rulemaking timeline, Williams pointed to a 2012 law that prohibits the FAA from regulating recreation drones, saying it could pose a potential roadblock.

Those familiar with the government plans, however, said the FAA is likely to argue that drones should be legally classified as aircraft, making them subject to the administration.

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The U.S. government will soon require tech enthusiasts to register their drones with the Department of Transportation, but many suspect the infrastructure to do so will not meet a proposed end-of-the-year deadline. Think Obamacare.
register, drones, obamacare
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2015-46-19
Monday, 19 Oct 2015 07:46 AM
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