Following an incident wherein an 11-month old girl in a stroller on Pasadena Street was injured from falling debris from a drone, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation is looking to set regulations for recreational drown owners.
The new regulations will require all unmanned aircraft owners to register their drones and quadcopters, just like every other aircraft owners.
The aforementioned incident is just one among the latest concerning drones. Although the drone in question was a commercial flyer that was used to control a wildfire near Big Bear Lake, the incident sparked discussions about the potential dangers of unmanned aircraft.
Pedestrians aren’t the only people that are encountering problems with these unmanned flyers. Since April 2014, pilots that were approaching the Los Angeles International Airport have been reporting dangerous encounters with the remote-controlled aircraft.
The growing number of incidents in the Southern California area, as well as other states in the country, is prompting federal regulators to require recreational drones to be registered as ‘aircraft’.
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx explained, “The signal we’re sending today is that when you enter the national airspace, it’s a very serious matter.” The proposed requirements would apply to new drone buyers, with existing owners availing of a yet-to-be-determined grace period before they register.
The regulators are planning to set the rules in place before the start of the Christmas season, where drones sales would be at their highest.
Unmanned Aircraft Safety
Foxx added that the ultimate goal of the registration is to educate consumers about the need to fly their aircraft safely. The regulations will also allow the authorities to track troublesome drones and quadcopters, and potentially be able to trace them back to their owners to face the appropriate penalties.
The Federal Aviation Administration is already working on rules that are set to govern commercial drone flying. The biggest problem they are facing is with recreational flyers straying too close to areas with airplanes, which present immediate dangers to pilots and their cargo of people.
Scott Vernick, who has long studied the legal issues surrounding drones as a lawyer, says that while “there’s no doubt there’s all kinds of havoc with these drones flying around,” he himself is unsure if the drone registration would be enough to deter dangerous operations.
Recently, the Los Angeles City Council approved new regulations that could result in a fine of $1,000 or a six-month prison term for irresponsible recreational flyers whose drones are flying too close to airports and people. The FAA’s plan for a nationwide registration system would potentially increase air security even further.
Vernick added, “[While] it’s a good first step, but as a practical matter, I think there are questions about what it actually accomplishes.”