The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that it intends to require registration of drones (also known as UAS or Unmanned Aerial Systems) for recreational users. Citing “increasing reports of unauthorized and unsafe use of small UAS” — including pilot reports of “drones at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, or as close as half-a-mile from the approach end of a runway” – the FAA has announced plans to begin to enforce the statutory requirements for aircraft registration in 49 U.S.C. 44101 for model aircraft. In other words, registration will be required for all UAS, including those operated for hobby or recreation.
A Registration Task Force was convened in early November to evaluate options for electronic registration that will not be overly burdensome to drone owners.
The Task Force’s final recommendations are still a few weeks away. UAS owners should visit FAA.gov for official updates on the UAS registry.
In response to these developments, the University of Wisconsin-Madison (to cite just one example) has rescinded an earlier drone policy and now, with some exceptions, prohibits individual students, staff or outside entities from operating drones on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus (including building interiors).
Commercial drone usage continues to be regulated through the requirement for a “Section 333 exemption” from the FAA. In addition, a state law limits the use of UAS by law enforcement agencies.
Additional perspectives on the recent FAA announcement are presented in this recent Cap Times article.