Registration of Drones is a Far Less Effective Than Geofencing.
The U.S. Government will soon require drone enthusiasts to register their drones with the FAA. The Department of Transportation (DOT) which oversees the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants to have a plan in place by Christmas 2015. The specifics of proposed legislation is largely speculation as details have not been fully explained. Will the rules cover new sales? What about the estimated 700,000 already on the market? Will the rules cover all unmanned aircraft or be limited to drones made of specific materials and weight?
Lets Dive Into Those Issues
- The shear number of drones being sold would be an enormous task for the government to manage. For example Amazon is selling more than 10,000 units per month. 3DR with sales of around $40 Million in sales for 2015 alone translates into some 53,000 drones. DJI, perhaps one of the most profitable companies in the drone market have filled some 400,000 orders. Many of these units were its signature Phantom series drones.
- What happens to drone owners that no longer own drones. Individuals are selling them on eBay, Craigslist, garage sales, flea markets, ect…. Are they going to be required to forward paperwork to the authorities as to who these buyers are? Would they even do that? I think not.
- What will the FAA be regulating exactly. What I mean is will they regulate the batteries, the motors, the transmitter, the flight controller? Is it only a whole aircraft? Are drone kits regulated or just fully assembled drones? Currently the rules say “Aircraft means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.” Logically, only a complete airworthy drone could fit into this criteria. This means that parts sold individually could be put together to gain airworthiness. But sold separately one could bypass legislation.
- How would a drone sucked into an aircraft engine be identified? It would be obliterated and unidentifiable.
- What is registration going to do to prevent reckless operators from doing stupid things?
- What would be considered a drone thus requiring registration? Drones can be as small as to fit in the palm of your hand. Would this be regulated?
- How would the FAA justify regulating drones that are on the ground?
- The budget question asks where the funds to undertake a task like this comes from? Registration fees are certainly going to have to be high enough cover costs. Some would call this another TAX. That very word leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. How about yours?
Geofencing, as I understand it, would prevent drone launches in restricted areas. DJI currently accomplishes this through firmware updates. Drones could even be equipped with transponders that could relay owner information in its transmissions. That measure alone could prevent operators from doing things they shouldn’t be doing. I’m no longer against regulating drones because some operators have made this necessary by their actions. I see some legislation as inevitable because the media has chosen to sensationalize this industry. When privacy concerns failed in the news safety took a front seat. New rules are also likely because politicians, trying to make a name for themselves, also sensationalize these crafts. I just hope and pray that the new rules, however they may evolve, make sense. The rules whatever they are will NOT do anything to address those that make drones in their home workshops and believe me it’s being done everyday! I hope they don’t stifle a new and rapidly growing industry. Time will the story… Make it a good one.