Personal drones will be topping many holiday wish lists this year and the FAA is trying to get ahead of what could be a significant increase in the number of small drones in the sky.
This week, the FAA announced a set of proposed regulations that include registrations of drones weighing between a half pound and 55 pounds as well as displaying a government-issued registration number similar to those found on private and commercial aircraft. There is an glaring issue with requiring owners to register themselves and one only needs to look at current gun registration policies and practices for parallels. As quoted in a New York Times article today, aviation lawyer and professor at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in Queens, Loretta Alkalay said "We shouldn’t really expect that the people with most nefarious intents would register in the database.” Regardless of the obvious gaps, anything that establishes a set of rules, and penalties for violating them, is of the utmost importance.
While the FAA has been working on regulating commercial drones, there is a significant lag in dealing with private users. Using the existing guidelines for traditional model aircraft as an example, it stands to reason that the solution might lie in the current model aircraft communities or in the creation of a new nationwide organization specifically for drone flyers.
In any case, commercial drone operators are quickly adapting to the regulations that are in place, but with expected sales of more than 400,000 drones this holiday season, the private operators may quickly overwhelm the national airspace system.