Aviation |  Jan 05, 2016

The US gearing up for a Drone Invasion this Christmas

In view of the increasing number of drones, the US Federal Aviation Administration (F.A.A.) has recently issued a number of recommendations relating to the regulation of civilian drones. Their aim is to introduce the necessary monitoring regulations so as to further control and standardize this relatively new technology.

The US government had already previously addressed some issues relating to commercial drones. In fact, it had imposed a limitation of their use to simply delivering packages. However, the government realised that it was now time to shift its regulatory focus on the increasing number of recreational drones which are already cruising the skies, and also in anticipation of the influx of drones that is anticipated to be sold during the Christmas holidays. Without any doubt, technological innovation within the drone industry has been main reason as to the increase in sales. Nonetheless, a number of privacy and safety issues remain unsettled. In this respect the F.A.A. has been receiving a staggering amount of complaints relating to incidents which have been occurring in both private and public spaces.

Consequently, in an attempt to bring forward recommendations in order to prevent further accidents and to address privacy issues, the F.A.A. brought together a task force that is mainly composed of manufacturing and aviation specialists, law enforcement agencies, large technology companies and pioneers who have an interest in this industry.

Undoubtedly, the most noteworthy recommendation is the introduction of a national database which will be populated by the majority of drone owners. Indeed, they will have to register their drones with the federal government but they will not be obliged to provide their email address or phone numbers.  Furthermore, drone owners would have to clearly mark their drone with a registration number issued by the government. The task force states that the new recommendations would apply to drones weighing between 226 grams to around 25 kilograms.

The F.A.A. will be calling the shots with respect to enforcement issues and it will also be responsible for managing the national database. Nonetheless, it is pertinent to point out that the recommendations were promulgated with the intention of regulating drones but with limited interference in relation to technological innovation within this industry.

In anticipation of the fast approaching Christmas holidays and in line with the new recommendations, the F.A.A is promoting its online portal called “Know Before You Fly” so that drone owners will be well informed about the consequences of misconduct and to also avoid running the risk of incurring hefty penalties or causing easily avoidable incidents.

Locally, the Maltese government has presented a draft legal notice addressing issues mostly relating to security, safety and privacy. Additionally, earlier on this year Transport Malta in collaboration with the Ministry for Transport and Infrastructure and the Ministry of Tourism, held it’s very first public consultation and a second public consultation is also in the pipeline.

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