New drone regulations to take flight soon - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

New drone regulations to take flight soon

Amarillo, TX - This week, the Department of Transportation announced the formation of a drone task force to require registration of the popular devices.

By the end of the year, the FAA anticipates near 700,000 unmanned aircraft to be in the air...outnumbering manned aircraft.

Federal officials say they will now require drone owners to have the flying gadgets registered and with at least one million drones anticipated to be sold this holiday season, the FAA could begin registering next month.

But why the sudden decision?

The FAA says the idea is to build a culture of accountability and responsibility among drone owners.

"Unmanned aircraft coming uncomfortably close to manned aircraft at altitudes of thousands of feet, well above the 400 feet or so that our current rules spell out. And the idea behind the registration is to give us some ability to track who had unmanned aircraft," says Lynn Lunsford, Public Affairs Manager for the FAA.

Amarillo Hobby House owner Darrel Dreascher says he has seen a huge influx of drone customers this year...many of whom he thinks will not comply with the new rule.

"I really don't know how they're going to do that," says Dreascher. "I have customers that build their own drones and they're not going to register them. I don't know how they're going to keep that in check. And really it's only the bigger ones that really are going to be able to get up high enough that...to cause any problems."

But that decision is still up in the air. The size of which to require registration is still being determined. Currently, however a price is in place.

"As it stands right now, the fee for registering a full-size aircraft is 5 dollars. And what this task force is going to help determine is what would an appropriate fee be," says Lunsford.

Despite the low fee, Dreascher tells us keeping tabs on every drone is going to be close to impossible.

"Most of them...the smaller ones definitely do not have serial numbers or anything on them. And the ones that people build themselves don't have serial numbers. So it's going to be hard to if something happens, it's going to be hard to tell who's it was unless you find the guy with the transmitter."

While the task force does its work, the FAA will continue aggressive education and outreach efforts.

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