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Opinion: Federal registry for personal drones takes a big step closer to reality

Owners of drones weighing more than half a pound would have to register their aircraft under recommendations developed by a task force commissioned by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

Owners of drones weighing more than half a pound would have to register their aircraft under recommendations developed by a task force commissioned by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx.

(Rpbert MacPherson / AFP/Getty Images)

Who says the government can’t do things quickly?

A month ago, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he wanted to develop a plan to register recreational drone aircraft by the end of the year. To that end, he convened a task force of stakeholders to come up with recommendations on how to do it, which were released Monday. It was quick work, but a pretty thoughtful first step to bringing some order to the explosion of recreational drone use.

The task force is recommending that the owners of all drones weighing more than half a pound register for free online or through an app after they take their drone home. The registration number would then have to be affixed to the craft.

That’s pretty much it, though the task force does leave a number of sticky issues unresolved. Such as how to get the word out about required registration. If registration doesn’t happen at the point of sale, which is what the task force recommends, then how will anyone know they face a fine for noncompliance? Also, the current fine of $25,000 is pretty steep for a drone.

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The recommendations, while a good start, don’t address the issue of pilots identifying a drone that buzzes them in the sky, unless the drone crashes. Some process of remote identification should be considered at some point soon.

Can new registration rules happen in time for Christmas, when thousands of people are expected to find brand new drones under the tree? Maybe, but better that the FAA takes the time to do this right.

mariel.garza@latimes.com

Follow me @marielgarzaLAT


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