WASINGTON (AP) - Concerned about rising reports of close calls and safety risks involving drones, the government announced Monday that it will require many of the increasingly popular unmanned aircraft to be registered.
Pilot sightings of drones doubled since last year, including near manned airplanes and at major sporting events, and there are reports of interference with wildfire-fighting operations, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at a news conference.
“These reports signal a troubling trend,” said Federal Aviation Administration chief Michel Huerta.
Registration will increase pressure on drone operators to fly responsibly, Huerta said, adding “When they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences.”
To work out details, the FAA and Transportation Department are setting up a task force including government and industry officials, pilots and hobbyists. They’ll recommend which drones should be required to register.
Foxx said he has directed the task force to deliver its report by Nov. 20 and hopes to have registration requirements in place by mid-December. The timeline is tight, but the urgency of the problem demands swift action, he said.
The Consumer Electronics Association predicts that 700,000 drones will be sold this holiday season, and Foxx said it’s especially important that new drone users be taught the responsibilities that come with flying.