The National Association of State Aviation Officials (NASAO) was one of a number of aviation groups invited this week to participate on the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force (RTF) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). The invitation came from the FAA UAS Integration Office, after Tuesday’s U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the creation of the task force to develop recommendations for a registration process for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS).
“We are pleased that the FAA has invited NASAO to join other key industry stakeholders on this important Task Force,” said NASAO Government Relations Manager, Mark Kimberling (shown at right). “Establishing a sensible and effective registration system is a logical next step in the ongoing effort to safely integrate UAS into our airspace system and we look forward to taking an active role in this process in the weeks ahead.”
The task force will be composed of 25 to 30 diverse representatives from the UAS and manned aviation industries, the federal government, and other stakeholders. Along with NASAO, other participants include the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Academy of Model Aircraft (AMA), Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), Helicopter Association International (HAI), PrecisionHawk, AirMap/ Small UAV Coalition and the Consumer Electronics Association.
The RTF will advise the Department on which aircraft should be exempt from registration due to a low safety risk, including toys and certain other small UAS. The task force also will explore options for a streamlined system that would make registration less burdensome for commercial UAS operators.
The task force may make additional safety recommendations as it deems appropriate. Secretary Foxx directed the group to deliver its report by Nov. 20, with a goal of registration rules to be put in place by mid-December, ahead of what some have estimated to be the purchase of 1 million drones as Christmas gifts.
NASAO’s UAS Committee, chaired by Randy Burdette (Virginia) held a conference call on Friday to capture additional input from the states – information that will be relevant to the proceedings which are expected to start this week with interviews and preparation meetings.
Secretary Foxx said that registering unmanned aircraft will help build a culture of accountability and responsibility, especially with new users who have no experience operating in the U.S. aviation system. “It will help protect public safety in the air and on the ground.”
Every day, the FAA receives reports of potentially unsafe UAS operations. Pilot sightings of UAS doubled between 2014 and 2015. The reports ranged from incidents at major sporting events and flights near manned aircraft, to interference with wildfire operations.
“These reports signal a troubling trend,” Huerta said. “Registration will help make sure that operators know the rules and remain accountable to the public for flying their unmanned aircraft responsibly. When they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences.”
While the task force does its work, the FAA will continue its aggressive education and outreach efforts, including the “Know Before You Fly” campaign and “No Drone Zone” initiatives with the nation’s busiest airports. The agency also will continue to take strong enforcement action against egregious violators. At the same time, it will continue working with stakeholders to improve safety to ensure further integration and innovation in this promising segment of aviation.