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Yuneec Typhoon in flightThe FAA kicked off one of its most aggressive rulemaking efforts in history this week, as the drone industry task force met to consider how to register the hundreds of thousands of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) projected to be sold this Christmas. The concept of registering drones seemed to come out of nowhere in late October, most likely in response to continuing news reports of drone “near miss” events.

While some think it is unrealistic to try to register so many small quadcopters, the Secretary of Transportation’s timeline may be even more unrealistic – the committee must complete issue guidelines in just two weeks (warp speed for the FAA). In his opening remarks, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta identified a number of tricky questions that must be addressed, including: who is ultimately responsible for registration, should registration include a formal education component and should there be an age requirement.

Whatever the recommendations are, there is a recognition that the current aircraft registration system doesn’t work for an industry of this size. As Huerta said, “Ultimately, we want to make registration as easy as possible for consumers, to relieve them of the complexity associated with registering larger, manned aircraft.”

What do you think about this proposal? It it a good idea to register drones? Will it improve safety for pilots? Or is it a waste of time and a distraction from bigger issues?

Scroll down and add your comment below.

John Zimmerman
33 replies
  1. CharleyA
    CharleyA says:

    Registration, along with operator education is a prudent course of action for consumer class UAS, excepting the very small micro sized aircraft. There will always be people who thrive by abusing or ignoring rules, but that is not a reason to reject good public policy. Just about any potentially dangerous activity requires some amount of regulation. Driving a car, or piloting a boat in my state requires registration, education, and licensure, so the idea is not unprecedented or onerous.

  2. Tom Yarsley
    Tom Yarsley says:

    If safety is the objective, then Registration is about the poorest conceivable safety initiative. Where is the still-nonexistent Congress-required “integration into the NAS?” We need sensible regulations. Registration is nothing more than an effort to determine who the bad guy is – after an incident.

    What is so hard about this? Pick a block of airspace for these UAVs – say, Class G below 500 feet AGL. Require UAV manufacturers to include updatable geo-fencing capabilities in their vehicles. Updates could be loaded using a simple cell-phone app. Don’t have the latest update for your current location? Guess what – your drone won’t fly! Compliant UAVs simply would be incapable of flight in unapproved airspace – no operator training or certification required. Perhaps if everyone in OKC pooled their IQ points……

  3. Duane
    Duane says:

    Yars makes some good points above, but the fact also is that current drones – hundreds of thousands of them, at least, if not millions – are already flying around without geofencing and on board GPS navigators.

    Just as there also are millions of hackers working nonstop in their mothers’ basements to bust any electronic limits in cyberspace, so consequently they’ll also figure out how to hack any factory settings based on geofencing.

    Therefore, determining the identify of the bad guys is still useful for punishing them after the fact. Even more so, IDing the would-be perps is also a significant deterrence BEFORE the fact.

    Because the simple fact of human nature is, that while many of us are self-regulating good citizens, many of us in the human race are also scofflaws with little regard for the safety of other persons and their property. For such as they, the only thing that deters them from damaging same is the threat of going to the Big House or paying a monstrous fine. Hence registration, which equals at least some degree of personal accountability, is a key regulatory tool.

    Therefore registration is a good early step, but not all by itself … it needs to be part of a holistic approach to regulating drones in a common sense way, much as Yars suggests above.

    Like so many other debates that often involve false choices, as if they are mutually exclusive … i.e., should we do A OR should we do B? … the correct answer sometimes is “we should do BOTH A AND B”.

    • Tom Yarsley
      Tom Yarsley says:

      The FAA never has been shy about mandating retro-fit technology (transponders, ADS-B, DME, etc.) in aircraft. They could – and should – regulate non-compliant vehicles out of the sky. Sure – there always will be scofflaw UAV operators, just as there are with experimental and certificated aircraft. But that’s no reason not to take appropriate regulatory action on a go-forward basis, and on a retro-fit basis.
      Since the scofflaws are unlikely to register their vehicles, registration per se does nothing to ensure operational compliance. Nothing. At its best, it’s a mechanism to spur some measure of self-education. At its worst – or its most-likely – it’s a self-serving expansion of the FAA bureaucracy. I know that I’ll feel a lot better if the drone that I collide with is properly registered! We all know that an unregistered Phantom will cause much worse impact damage than an identical but registered Phantom will.
      Technology created this problem, and technology really is the only effective way to solve it. And it requires no expertise or even cooperation from the user community. It’s really a no-brainer – which explains why I support it.
      If the FAA wants to register kites and circus balloons – fine. But please don’t insult the nation’s intelligence by characterizing registration as a safety program.

      • Tom Yarsley
        Tom Yarsley says:

        In my post above I said “please don’t insult the nation’s intelligence by characterizing registration as a safety program.” I just want to clarify that my comment was aimed at the Agency – not at Duane, who is a gentleman to a fault. I regret any unintended ambiguity.

        • Duane
          Duane says:

          Thanks, Yars … you are a highly informed and serious commenter as well as a good guy. The FAA as usual is in reaction mode as opposed to forward thinking mode. And they are not particularly concerned with the opinions of their regulated community of users, as we see repeatedly.

          The FAA needs stronger adult supervision, perhaps some sort of independent Congressionally-created oversight board that is populated with appointees consisting of actual airspace system users, and who have the ability to veto stupid FAA rules and mandates (i.e., ADS B out mandate), and to affirmatively create their own rules when the FAA inevitably drags their feet (i.e., Part 23 reform, medical reform, drone regulation, etc.).

          The FAA is simply an inert beast that exists only to retard aviation in America, and to feed itself.

  4. John Zimmerman
    John Zimmerman says:

    The biggest limitation here (in my opinion) is that registration is purely for enforcement, not prevention. Maybe an educational requirement would help, but this is mostly a way to make examples out of some idiots.

    • Duane
      Duane says:

      John – as per my comment above, enforcement is itself a form of prevention, as in deterrence. When there are no applicable laws or regulations, or when they exist but are not enforced – either way, the result is there is no penalty for bad behavior. In that case, human nature says there will be more bad behavior.

      You’re right that it takes more than enforcement and deterrence … education, and some of the techno-fixes that Yars proposes above … in other words, a complete response, is what we need. Unfortunately, the FAA seems to be in knee-jerk territory with this hurried, one-dimensional response.

  5. Glenn
    Glenn says:

    Here is my worry: Once this happens, any John Q. Citizen could, out of ignorance or fear, report some drone somewhere for just being in the sky. Because drones typically have no distinguishing marks or features, law enforcement might wind up wasting a lot of time trying to figure out which operator in the town, city, county, was out flying that day and if they were out of compliance with some rule. That’s going to take significant time and money for training. I have no idea how to solve for that.

  6. Rob Thomas
    Rob Thomas says:

    This is a joke, pure and simple. How does the FAA intend on enforcing any of this? The cops? They are going to laugh, they have enough to do. How do you plan on catching a violator? “Drones” can be flown FPV, or on preprogrammed GPS routes, over very large distances with some of the latest gear. How do you track that? They had no idea a guy in a gyrocopter was flying into DC and landing on the Capitol lawn, and you want me to believe that drones can be stopped? I’m still laughing…. The only hope of preventing accidents is to engage the hobby industry in training and educating drone pilots and public service announcements. They will never stop people who are intentionally breaking the rules.

  7. Jack
    Jack says:

    Disruptive has come to mean illegal. The 1% s have now learned that they can flex their political clout and remove all compliance and make billions in businesses that would otherwise not be profitable if legal. It is the same overlapping groups in all these businesses. The revolution in Silicone Valley has not been technology, it has been the get rich quick business model.

    Uber is a flat illegal cab business that has become too big to fail. As a Public Defender in LA I represented persons arrested by undercover LA cops for giving rides for money without the proper permits. We called them “Tijuana Taxi” cases because poor Hispanics were targeted. Today the Attorney General of New York has gone after the daily fantasy sport business. We’ll see where that goes.

    GA flights to Mexico are down by over a half because of the war on terror, but we are going to allow unregulated drones that are a threat to air safety, noise pollution, our privacy not to mention their risk in the hands of a criminal or terrorist bent on mass casualties. Why? it is obvious, money, big money. The prediction of a market in the millions.

    Mr. Zimmerman is honest enough to admit he is in the drone business. He also argues that I pads increase safety, although every accepted measure of safety is to the contrary. He is big time in that business also.

    Let us not forget AOPA in all this, their new leadership seeing the precipitous loss of potential membership, has jumped on the money before representing their members bandwagon. Just send them some more money and any day we will have third class medical reform.

    Now if I could just figure a way to fly my airplane from outside, I wouldn’t need all those pesky licenses, medicals, BFRs etc.

    • John Zimmerman
      John Zimmerman says:

      I think the drone industry as a whole is begging for regulation. But this half-baked idea is hardly regulation. It’s almost as if, being unable to release real rules to govern UAS operations, the FAA has opted for this knee-jerk plan.

      Deliver some real rules for operation of UAS. That would improve safety. This registration plan is just to buy the bureaucrats some time.

  8. tom
    tom says:

    What’s the threat an RPV presents and how will registration mitigate it? How high, far and fast can they go? What do they weigh? Is that a threat, and to who? We already register cars, planes, trains, guns, bulls, amateur radio, boats and ATVs. All it does is create a tax base and a way for bureaucrats to grow their kingdom.

    American news outlets claim RPVs can be used for kidnapping for the child sex trade, pornography, car accidents and theft. I think certain news outlets are creating their own news.

    If big brother is watching the first thing a kid will do is remove registration. What makes anyone think they can read an RPV registration from a distance? I’m extremely skeptical that the small RPVs pose a physical danger to airplanes and even more skeptical of pilots claiming to see one. Most can’t see my Cardinal from a mile in daylight unless I turn on all lights and make turns to give some wing flash. Claims of midairs with a drone have always had bird guts and feathers.

    Privacy might suffer, but compared to TSA spying, I’m not sure it’s damaging, epecially with people putting their lives on facebook or publicly yelling it into a handset.

    I haven’t read the amateur radio control aircraft rules, but RC guys have lectured me. Civil aircraft are to stay 500ft above rural areas and 1000 ft above ‘populated’ areas. RCs are to stay below 500ft and within visual range of the operator. Does an RC mounted camera extend the operator’s visual range? The military thinks it does, who fly 60 of them 24/7 from Las Vegas via satcom. US customs flies Reapers and Predators along the cdn and Mexican borders. They weigh thousands of pounds with optics that can see for miles. I’d worry about that before I’d worry about a kid’s Christmas present.


  9. Stephen Mann
    Stephen Mann says:

    For the record. I’m not against regulation, I’m just against bad regulation. I am not in the least opposed to making owners of these small aircraft operate them safely. But the proposed registry won’t even move the needle on the frequency of reported drone sightings, let alone do anything to curtail irresponsible flights. This is less about safety than it is about doing something. This is a rumor-based approach to regulation, not a risk-based scientific approach. While I appreciate the pressure from Congress and the irresponsible news media to “do something”, I don’t believe the FAA has been given a mandate to do something stupid.

    Setting aside my skepticism that any government body can design and implement a robust registration system in just two months, it occurs to me that this registration system might actually increase the number of drone related incidents. By providing drone registration the government, at a stroke, legitimizes drones. A situation similar to what day-care centers accidentally discovered when they legitimized late pickups of kids by implementing fines. (Article) http://freakonomics.com/2013/10/23/what-makes-people-do-what-they-do/

    The FAA wants to be able to find the owner of a drone that is caught flying irresponsibly, well and good. but an emergency rule in less than six weeks to register 2-million model aircraft? Really? What could possibly go wrong? Just because an rogue drone might cause an accident smacks of “Minority Report”. The FAA is going to make an emergency rule for something that has not happened yet?

    14 CFR §91.139 – ‘Emergency air traffic rules’ gives the administrator the authority to make up rules “Whenever the Administrator determines that an emergency condition exists, or will exist, “. I am pretty confident that someone will challenge the validity of the emergency rule on the ground that it was issued in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act’s (“APA”) notice and comment provision, 5 U.S.C. § 553(c) because no evidence of an emergency exists.

    49 USC §44101(a) does require that all aircraft be registered. The FAA has never followed the statute with model aircraft for decades, so they had plenty of time to promulgate rules through the normal NTSB process. In other words, what emergency?

    Mr. Foxx: Where is the fact-based evidence of an emergency? Please define the problem and look for a solution that will work without the extraordinary
    step of declaring a future emergency as the basis of an emergency SFAR. “Minority Report” was just a movie – please don’t take the movie literally and create an emergency
    rule based on what might happen.

  10. Louie
    Louie says:

    There are a lot of good comments; my thought is to make a list of the good ones and reject the bad ones. The currently proposed regulations remind me of Loran and GPS and citizen band radio history. Once technology produces a good idea at an affordable price you can toss registration out the window. Government regulation mandated testing and licensing and outlawed unregistered use. Once the folks discovered their usefulness, thousands or millions of citizens became outlaws in the eyes of the government. Register drones? That is the dumbest and most idiotic idea I’ve ever heard. Convince millions of kids and adults to take a course and obtain a license, possibly even a commercial pilot license and a medical exam in order to fly their drone? What really scares me is the person who might be proposing this idea. Register them to death and then expect some police agency to investigate? In the near future, we are going to have countless millions of unregistered drones being flown by uneducated or educated adults and kids. Like it or not like it, this is going to be the situation. I wonder how many people were injured by the use of illegal GPS navigation in their airplanes or loran or unlicensed citizen band radios? Technology is at work and despite government’s and well-meaning citizen’s efforts to tamp it down, we can either accept some risk that is always attendant with technology; think about the early days of inventing airplanes; or we can accept the rampant socialism that is ruining this country at the present time. Read some of the reports about early experiments with gliders and aircraft. Would anyone today embrace the doom and gloom reported in the newspapers when technology was trying to fly? Taking clues from other comments, why not allow technology to limit the altitude to something reasonable such as 400 feet. Technology already prevents flight near airports. Anyone flying a manned airplane less than 500 feet and not in the vicinity of an airport should be willing to accept the risk of hitting more than just a drone. Think towers and birds. And yes there can be somebody down in the basement undoing that technology for his own particular purpose, there always is that somebody, but perhaps one in a million. So all these proposed regulations and limiting the millions who would not think of doing such a thing in order to outlaw maybe 10 people is the textbook definition of fascism. Limit the altitude and areas around airports and you have solved the problem. All of this of course concerns the very small machines that the multitudes have the capability of acquiring. Larger machines of course can be regulated quite easily because the persons with the means to buy them are also the persons who would gladly accept the regulations. But separate the masses from the infinitely smaller group with a commercial goal. But even here the idea of requiring a pilot license and a medical is asinine. Due to the very small quantity of larger machines with a commercial purpose, requiring the appropriate education should be very doable. Even a commercial purpose for the small machines should not be regulated at all. I’ll use myself as an example: I am in my 54th flying year with over 13,000 hours in everything from a gyrocopter to airliners and lots of things in between. I have also been in the real estate business for close to 50 years. I use a small drone to take off and fly straight up to 35 feet, take a picture and come straight back down. I submit that I am no more a hazard than throwing a rock 35 feet straight up. And yet government wants me to have a commercial license, flight physical and permission to do that. That simply is not going to happen, with either me or countless millions of others. Every regulation carries a big price tag, no matter the intent.

  11. Allen
    Allen says:

    How about allowing the drone to go wherever it is piloted, but if it busts established airspace boundaries, it self reports by cellular service and/or becomes disabled for a period of time. Software updates would occur automatically, every time it flies. I have a feeling, though that drone registration will be about as successful as CB radio licensing (wasn’t). In any case, I believe there is ample evidence to support the assertion that local law enforcement isn’t knowledgeable enough to properly enforce, and certainly tagging local LEOs to do this would be an unfunded mandate.

  12. tom
    tom says:

    I can’t believe that participants in one of the most regulated activities in the world are baying for more regulation. But then, it’s on someone else. Maybe that’s it.

    I suggest those promoting registration/pilot training/public execution for flying a toy plane need to fly one. You can do it for $50. I got the ‘nearly indestructible Estes ‘Ominus’ it for $75. It can do backflips it says here.

    After charging the battery and some test flights off the bed, down the hall and circle the livingroom the battery needed a recharge. Confident of my skills we ventured outside. Anything more than dead air renders it unfliable or it crashes. It got 40 ft away, shut off. And crashed. Sparrows snickered. It crashed. Magpies swarmed it. They won and claimed a piece of propeller as war booty. It came with four spare propellers. The ‘nearly indestructible Estes ‘Ominus’ went through two in an hour. The only risk it posed was to itself. Going for an altitude record on a fresh charge and maximum thrust I found out the battery life was about 2 minutes. It got to maybe 40 ft and a million miles downwind. Control is ephemeral, and I’m an FAA certificated, commercial rated, registered pilot who can normally do those things.

    The battery is about the size, shape and weight of a pack of gum. It’s a LiPo concoction in a plastic bag.

    I threw the $75 test article in a box and came in to write the test report.

    All the while I was paying tribute to the courageous steely eyed pilots who want it registered and asked: “Why do people scare so easy?”

    • Duane
      Duane says:

      Tom – the toy drone you refer to is not likely to pose much of a risk to manned aircraft and their occupants, but you do realize that there are accelerating numbers of much larger, heavier, and capable drones that could pose a safety threat, and they are just as unregulated as are the toys.

      One of the most popular drones for serious photographers and videographers weighs about five pounds, and can travel for up to four miles and can climb many hundreds, if not thousands, of feet .. yet there are no requirements for either the drone or the operator .. none, zip, nada. The particular manufacturer does incorporate a single form of “geofencing” that prevents operation of the drone within a 15 mile radius of the center of Washington, D.C., but that’s it. You can take it to any major metro airport, military airfield, whatever, and operate it with zero restrictions, technologically or legalistically.

      And as I have pointed out in other threads on this topic, a five pound drone of which most of the weight is in the form of a relatively hard and dense battery as well as HD videocam, traveling at only 40 mph and colliding with a 150 mph aircraft windshield packs more power than does the largest caliber sniper rifle available. It can kill a human that it collides with at those kinds of speeds and kinetic energy.

      And there are commercial drones available all the way up to the current 55 pound limit proposed by the FAA for the current draft rule. A 55 pound drone can bring down an airliner in a head on collision.

      • tom
        tom says:

        Duane. The point of my post was that not all droned pose a threat to aviation, grandmothers on bicycles and cats. Well – maybe cats. The drone I flew is the drone millions of kids will get as gifts and are the drones that people are fretting about.

        Only you thought to make a distinction about weight and capability, and you are shooting from the hip about it: Where’s the data? We need to define which ‘drones’ we are talking about before making blanket statements. So far all I see is speculation and innuendo. Add that to make-believe encounters and we have bureaucrats gathering to regulate things using the precautionary principle: Decision making from ignorance.

        Claiming that a battery has the ballistics of a bullet isn’t true – KE= MV^2 is part of it. Surface area, density and hardness are factors too. If you’ve held the little tungsten sabot in an antitank kinetic energy penetrator you know what I mean. But it’s a distinction without a difference if the drone can’t get near an airplane, and when it comes to the ones I looked at, there’s no way it will happen.

        As capability goes up so does cost. In my family we tend to not make expensive toys the first choice for beginners.

        I guess I’m the grumpy old guy who sits in the back of the room cussing. I ride trail cycles and snowmobiles in the national forest in Montana. About 20 years ago the state proposed an off road sticker ‘to pay for trail maintenance’ that we had been doing ourselves on trails built by miners, stockmen and hunters. They also discovered we were riding to and from the trail heads on forest roads so they enforced license and insurance rules on gravel jeep tracks. The forest and fish cops re-wrote the travel plans allegedly to accommodate Canadian Lynx and wolverines that had never been seen or trapped in our play areas, but, you know, precautionary principle and all that – just in case – so trails were closed and others only open a few months a year. The ORV sticker has increased from $4 to $50, which hires trail crews with with enforcement authority. But there isn’t enough money to maintain them all, so many are closed. Old timers not used to being managed like this ride without stickers and tags, planning a little motocross if we encounter enforcement.

        After all that, have lynx and wolverines invaded the area? No. Has trail maintenance improved? No. What was the point again? Control. Somebody found out that we were unregulated. Now we are, and it has accomplished little.
        This type of over-reach starts out so innocently.

        • Duane
          Duane says:

          Tom, I can assure you that the toys that can fly maybe 35 feet in the air and maybe a couple hundred feet max laterally and weigh ounces are NOT the drones that pilots like me are concerned with. It’s the others as I described in my reply to you that are of concern, and they are being sold in the tens of thousands or even perhaps before long millions. These are serious machines with serious capabilities, yet there are as of today no rules nor registration of the machines or their users. Non-regulation of drones is not an option. Over-regulation of drones is a serious concern too.

          Any regulatory scheme that the FAA comes up with and enforces is going to need to be tiered based upon the capabilities of the drone. Toys with limited capability should be exempted altogether. More capable drones need to be subjected to some operational limits, and some form of accountability, such as registration of the owners and operators is a reasonable approach to take. After all, in most states today, you have to register a moped as well as an automobile, ditto with a 10-ft jon boat with a gas motor on it as well as a super yacht, and people aren’t losing our liberties or mounting the ramparts to protest such regulatory schemes.

          Over reaction isn’t unhelpful – whether overreaction from the anti-drone folks and overreaction from the pro-drone folks. The FAA is not handling things very well, as usual, and it will probably come down to Congress mandating some basic outlines for the FAA to follow (just as Congress will mandate the Pilots Bill of Rights 2 that will mostly nullify the third class medical).

    • Duane
      Duane says:

      Tom – the other point is not that all pilots hate all regulations. Some regulation is always necessary – the real question is not an all or nothing proposition, but rather, what is the appropriate amount and type of regulation.

      I guarantee that absent FAA flight rules, hundreds of idiots in Cessnas and Pipers would be buzzing the rooftops from mere feet above in dense urban areas. One would be a fool to think that all people have common sense and proper concern for their fellow human beings. History has taught us that gazillions of times over.

      • tom
        tom says:

        I disagree that hundreds of Ps and Cs would be buzzing the rooftops if they weren’t regulated. In fact I’ll take your bet. I have seen people do the opposite and die rather than break a rule.
        People who fly in areas where there there is no ATC radar coverage below a bazillion feet fly in IMC anyway because that’s the only flying option. Some get airborne and circle climb in IMC to VFR on top or to the MEA and get a clearance. Or maybe not because there’s nobody to get it from.

        On the other hand, we’ve had tourist pilots who follow the book of rules and die because they refused to climb into IMC after getting trapped in a valley. Instead, they chose to scud run in unfamiliar territory until they hit something. Then we get to spend our holiday searching for and packing out the pulverized and roasted remains the grizzlies couldn’t get to. All because of a rule.

        I learned to fly with a military aero club in Florida where we had rules just for the sake of control. When i moved to MT and bought a plane I was stymied at first – I knew the rules, and they didn’t work in little planes where MEAs are 13,000 ft or so – right where the rime ice is over the rock piles. So we learn to scud run or haul ice. Operating out of remote strips built into hillsides don’t lend themselves to traffic pattern rules, and learning from survivors what works beats the pants off a book of rules. Granted, traffic density is measured in airplanes per month so traffic vigilance tends to atrophy. It’s nice to spot traffic once in a while, just to prove we still can.

        My point is that the delicate hand of federal regulation doesn’t fit all situations, and I’ve learned some need to be applied with caution if at all.

  13. Louie
    Louie says:

    I have to admit that I am always on the lookout for governmental overregulation. Obviously, some basic regulations are necessary to provide guidelines. In my mind, I have some filters through which proposed regulations must pass through before I’m willing to accept them. 1st of all is the textbook definition of fascism; “Control of the people through regulation and taxation.”. We have been there since the 1920s when Herbert Hoover brought it to our attention in his book. 2nd is the massive mountain of regulations we all are expected to abide by. As a lifelong observer of overregulation and the human response to it, I have begun to be very protective of my rights as a citizen under an amazing Constitution in this country. Where we are headed with the currently proposed regulations concerning drones is easy to foresee. The vast majority of drone operators are and will be conservative and safety conscious with or without regulations. There is and will be those who will do stupid and dangerous things with or without regulation. The bottom line is that the regulations will have absolutely no effect on any operator, good or bad. The good guys will continue to be good guys and the bad guys will continue to be bad guys. With the regressive regulations, the feds will be almost totally unable to catch up to the bad guys and so will overreact toward innocent happenings that will happen to the good guys. This has always been the case with overregulation simply because the good guys are easy to catch since they are not trying to hide their activities. Few of the bad guys will be caught because they know they are purposely evading detection. Example: The NTSB has written that if there were no speed limits posted on our highways, the vast majority of drivers will drive at precisely the speed at which those highways are now posted. So without any regulation at all, the good guys will drive at a safe speed anyway and the bad guys will not. Apply the regulation and the situation will not change at all; the good guys will be safe, the bad guys will not. And how on earth is anyone going to enforce drone laws against anyone, except the very occasional operator who experiences a loss of control and is suddenly set upon by law enforcement. The bad guys, cognizant of their illegal operation, will certainly take steps to remain anonymous. I can think of very few instances where a small drone needs to exceed even 100 feet, let alone 400 feet, since it tends to disappear from view at anything near those distances. As has been suggested, they are easily programmed at the factory to remain inside an invisible fence. By factory programming alone, I would suggest that 99.9% of all legitimate uses can be managed. If someone has a specific need to exceed those areas, then permission can be solicited for a specific purpose. And then you know who might be a potential problem. And yes, there are hackers who can defeat the programming but I would suggest that for every million users, the total number of hackers might be 3 or 4. All of this of course flies in the face of government taking a very simple solution and writing 3000 pages of regulations that no one can understand or abide by.

    • Duane
      Duane says:

      Louie, with all due respect you are artificially limiting your concept of drones to the mere toys that Tom is all worked up about in the thread above. Those are not the sum total of the population of unmanned aircraft, not even close … and both the mission parameters and the way they are actually used vastly exceeds your constricted view of what drones are actually used for.

      Just google “GoPro” and find the gazillions of articles posted about using these pervasive and highly capable HD or even UHD videocams to collect dramatic moving pictures of virtually anything a human being can think of. These drones are being flown by professional videographers, thrill seekers, and ordinary people just doing something interesting for a hobby, and potentially by criminals and terrorists as well. There is no limit to what a drone can do – they can be of any size, shape, and performance capability. I’ve seen posted video from drones doing everything from zipping around above skyscrapers in dense urban areas, to flitting around bridge towers at landmarks like the Golden Gate Bridge, canyons, mountain tops, cruise ships, race cars, operating manned airplanes, and so on. Some of the operators appear to be conscious of safety, many are oblivious to air transport safety, and a few seem to operate like lunatics.

      Nothing limits the uses of drones in the USA today, technically or legally. The FAA has proposed a rule, but the draft rule highly contentious and the final rule may or may not resemble the draft rule. No doubt whatever the FAA comes up with, the FAA will obviously need to revisit it, probably multiple times and quite often, as technology and social trends move at light speeds while FAA moves at geologic speeds.

      Coming up with a decent drone regulatory scheme is going to be difficult work, and will require a lot of tweaking over the years and input from a lot of interested people. The naysayers who claim that any regulation at all is idiotic are clearly wrong and have already lost the debate. The eager beaver regulators must be restrained. The best method of producing a decent set of rules would be for Congress to establish a board made up of representatives of all the key interest groups and let them work together to devise the rules, with technical assistance from the FAA as needed. The FAA is clearly not equipped to do this on their own.

  14. Chris
    Chris says:

    Why don’t you have the government regulate laser lights and racing pigeons too!Every time you let any regulation happen you lose some freedoms. I though we were founded on not being regulated by England,I must be mistaken! Makes me sick to see how fast you people are buffaloed when someone says safety is involved. I don’t need them in every facet of my life and resent it, especially when I see the incompetence they represent. I guess the congress and senate is doing such a bang up job we could trust them with even more work they don’t get done.

  15. Drew
    Drew says:

    The only reason we have to obtain a drivers license is to prove we know the rules, same with flying. We all learn to fly before we are issued a pilots license, and most people learn to drive before being eligible for a drivers license.

    In my country (NZ) we must get a firearms license, not to teach us how to operate a gun, but to prove we know the rules. Any firearms we purchase we can register against our firearms license. It is a good way to ensure people that operate firearms know the rules and if a firearm is found to be used outside of the law then it can be traced to a license.

    I think the above reason is why we need to have licensing for UAV operators and then they can register the individual aircraft against their licenses.

  16. chris
    chris says:

    Yeah, the regulations are doing such a bang up job, the law enforcement shoot people in the back running away. If everybody was carrying there would be a lot less crime because the crooks would be fearful. You think the criminals will register their weapons. You live in a fantasy world. Ever hear of World War 2 , pretty hard to keep the government in check when you have to throw rocks. You go right ahead and relinquish your freedoms. Also the licenses are just a money maker, there are people driving that should have a license for walking.

  17. Louie
    Louie says:

    It is a well known truism that all regulations promulgated by government are in the name of “Public Safety”. It is a catch all that is hard to argue with and that’s exactly why government does it. In the 20th century, Congress created the bureaucracy. Today, we think that our country was born with bureaucracies, but it wasn’t. ALL LAWS are created by the House of Representatives, agreed to by the Senate and signed by the President. Early in the 20th century, Congress started creating bureaucracies and giving them total power over our persons. Our founders had created the 3 branches of government as a protection from the government. With a bureaucracy, it sets the rules; it enforces the rules; and if you object, also judges you against its rules. We recently have had a very small bit of relief from the FAA bureaucracy in that, the FAA created the rules, enforced the rules and previously ruled against you if, in their opinion you broke the rules. Supposedly the NTSB was the bureaucracy that was supposed to judge you but in fact, almost always sided with the FAA. Now there seems to be a tiny respite but we are still going to be judged by the same bureaucracy that created the rules and administered the rules. In other words, if a bureaucrat says you’re guilty, you’re guilty. I pick on the FAA as an example because that’s the bureaucracy we all deal with but it’s true of all bureaucracies. The word unconstitutional comes to mind. What also comes to mind, is that a regulation is not law. Regulations are promulgated by bureaucracies and by definition, we are held accountable not by law but to the bureaucracy. As far back as the 9th grade, I realized that we were losing our rights by the process of gradualism. Today, we accept bureaucracies because they were instituted during the time of our grandfathers; we thought they were always there, but they were not. In effect, we are ruled not by law but by a myriad of bureaucracies which create regulations from which we have no respite. Note also that we do not get to vote for anyone making up a bureaucracy; they are appointed with no input from us. And that’s exactly why it’s unconstitutional.

  18. Stephen Mann
    Stephen Mann says:

    Louie, you would flunk a fourth-grade Civics class.

    Congress makes laws.
    The Executive branch executes the laws that Congress passes.
    The Judiciary mediates the constitutionality of the laws.

    Bureaucracies are created by the executive branch of the government to carry out the laws passed by Congress. Even George Washington had a cabinet of four bureaucrats.

    No bureaucracy “makes” laws. They make regulations to carry out the laws passed by Congress. If they go too far, then the constitutional test is applied by the Judiciary.

  19. Louie
    Louie says:

    I thought that is what I just said. At least that is what I intended to say. Bureaucracies make regulations, not laws. They also administer those regulations and the bureaucracy is also the judge. Yes, bureaucracies are created to carry out laws. Yes, the executive branch executes the laws that Congress passes; the House drafts the law and hands it to the Senate for approval or disapproval and the president signs it or not. Then the president is supposed to administer it. But when the bureaucracy is created to administer the law, they create their own ordinances and then police we the citizens in the manner which they choose and you will be held accountable to the ordinance, not necessarily the law.

    In the Hillsdale College course, The Constitution and the Supreme Court, they emphasize that the Supreme Court only issues their opinion as to the constitutionality of any given law. They further teach that the Supreme Court does not have the final say in the matter; Congress can overrule the Supreme Court with an appropriate vote. It is also up to the people through the voting process, to overrule the court.

    My own learning experience in the matter happened in 1980 when I took on the IRS over a recently enacted law passed by Congress which dealt with reporting the sale of business property. After I went through all the local auditors I ended up with the Chief Auditor for the Internal Revenue Service. My position was that I was following the law as passed by Congress and not by the IRS interpretation and implementation of the law. He agreed with me and we parted friends. He stated that if it went to federal court, I would most certainly win and the IRS absolutely did not want that to happen because the regulations that they were enforcing violated the law that Congress passed.

    I would suggest that before you kick me out of fourth-grade civics that you take a few courses yourself from Hillsdale College. But actually I think we are in total agreement. And I can’t even remember the 4th grade.

  20. chris
    chris says:

    Does not matter, immigration laws are a mess no matter which side you take, so how is that check and balance going! Lol

  21. Louie
    Louie says:

    Lots of great comments and some not so great. As a final thought: Fascism; control of the people through taxation and regulation. It’s all a matter of degree and necessity. Herbert Hoover, remember him? It has long been held that “all governments tend toward socialism”. But Pres. Hoover wrote, I believe in 1929, the United States is tending toward Fascism because of over regulation. Since reading his book in the early 1970s, I have been very wary in my mind of over regulation to no purpose except control. A few short months ago we were “asked” to send in $5 and submit personal names and information to register our drones. Exactly what did that accomplish? Nothing good that I can think of. Just another futile rule to follow that does nothing except feed the bureaucracy. Reading the forums concerning drones has been a real education for me. I use mine in my real estate business. But the forums are replete with seemingly normal human beings doing very infantile things with drones. I have no answer for what to do about it. What I have observed though is the stupid things that the mentally challenged loonies are doing still pose no threat to anybody or anything except themselves. As dumb as the things some of them do, they still take pains not to endanger anyone or anything other than themselves. I personally, at least at this time, see no need to worry about endangering the public. Registration has no affect on a person’s action. Check out street racing with cars, acrobatics on motorcycles, etc.. Law enforcement in certain very large towns in New Mexico can’t even begin to stop the above activities. And those rather large vehicles are duly registered, licensed, observed, reported and everything else you can think of. Register your drone? Ridiculous and futile activity.

  22. SteveMann
    SteveMann says:

    Just when I thought this thread was finished…
    So, registration is no longer required…. Now, you will get what you wished for.

    I covered the future in my blog, dronemann, but basically, here’s what’s going to happen next. Just a prediction. I have no specific information.

    I predict that in the next FAA authorization bill, Section 336 will be removed. Shortly after that the FAA will propose rules to certify hobby flyers. The exams will be conducted by volunteer examiners, similar to how the FCC tests and licenses Amateur Radio Operators.

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