WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Federal Aviation Administration task force will submit recommendations for registering drone operators on Saturday, setting the stage for regulators next month to propose regulations intended to help reverse a surge in rogue drone flights.
A final version of the panel’s recommendations was expected to receive approval from 25 task force members on Friday. It would signal broad agreement among stakeholders, including drone makers, pilots, hobbyists and regulators, on a free and user-friendly registration process for recreational users of unmanned aerial systems, or UAS.
Registration is one of several steps the FAA and other government agencies are considering to address a disturbing rise in reckless drone use this year, including near-misses with commercial airliners near airports.
Officials are concerned that safety and security risks could rise in coming years as drone sales continue to soar, with more than 1 million drones expected to be sold in the United States this year.
The task force report was not expected to be released to the public until next week, according to people familiar with the matter. But they said the recommendations would require drone operators to register on a website or via a phone app, if they own UAS weighing as little as 8.8 ounces (250 grams), and attach their registration number to their drones.
“On Saturday, the task force will deliver its report to the Federal Aviation Administration,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a blog posted to a federal website on Friday.
“We will consider their recommendations and the public comments as we develop an interim final rule on registration, which will likely be released next month and go into effect shortly thereafter.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who announced the registration initiative last month, had charged the task force with completing its work by Friday.
Two sources said the drone registry could ultimately provide an alternative to the more laborious, paper-based process for registering manned aircraft for both recreational and commercial drone users.
Commercial operators are currently required to register their drones through the manned aircraft process on a case-by-case basis. Registration of commercial drones will be addressed in final FAA regulations expected early next year.
Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by W Simon and Dan Grebler