Simple online system is expected to be free for users to register their aircraft

US drone registration system expected to launch in December

A federal task force is expected to announce a free registry system for drones flying in US airspace.

Owners of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would probably have to sign up on online or with a smartphone app and put a visible registration number on the drone.

According to two people familiar with the matter, responsibility for registering is expected to fall to the owner, rather than the manufacturer or retail vendor, but the task force may recommend that no penalties be applied for first-time noncompliance.

The process is expected to be simpler than the current, paper-based, registration system for manned aircraft.

Although the 25-member task force has reached no final decisions after three days of meetings last week, discussions are expected to continue via teleconference over the next two weeks.

The sources said the meetings that have already taken place focused largely on top-line issues, leaving details on specific requirements and privacy questions for later discussions.

The committee is due to deliver formal recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration by 20 November.

US aviation regulators expect to begin implementing registration in December. They said that such a system would help authorities to combat a surge in rogue drone flights near airports and other public sites.

Ministers in the UK have also considered placing restrictions on UAVs following a number of near misses with aircraft.

Google recently announced it was expecting to launch its ‘Project Wing’ drone delivery service to customers in 2017 but that a registry system such as the one proposed would need to be implemented before this.

Project leader David Vos has predicted that other steps, including air traffic control systems for low-altitude drone flights, could follow within the next 12 months.

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