Drone is the colloquial term for what the Federal Aviation Authority describes as an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV. And you've probably heard that some regulations are "in the wings", so to speak which will apply to even small, non-commercial drones. Of course you've already read the FAA's 195 page original 2015 drone rules proposal. I know I have (not!). We do aim to keep up on technical news and issues and this article from Tech Republic is fairly comprehensive, as well as being an easy read.
Apparently, the regulations that have been newly implemented apply to small (under 55 pound), independently-owned, recreational drones and there may be exceptions, but for the most part each drone will need to be registered with a serial number, associated with the operators name and address.
Drones can be registered online with the FAA by anyone who is at least 13 years of age and a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. It's $5, payable by debit or credit card.
Why? Because of steadily increasing encounters between small drones and manned aircraft. The FAA is concerned about amateurs using the drones in a reckless manner, increasing the likelihood of a collision that could rain debris down on people or even bring down a large aircraft. In 2014, the agency was receiving about 25 reports per month of drones sighted flying near manned aircraft or airports, up from just a handful of reports two years previous.
As Boeing 737 pilot told The New Zealand Herald, "The current situation is out of control. If my aircraft goes down and we are mourning something strong will happen, but we can't allow that to happen to me or anybody else." Definitely check out Know Before You Fly, an education campaign founded by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to educate prospective users about the safe and responsible operation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
I'd be remiss not to mention that relative to drone surveillance, privacy issues come into play and while the FAA remains "hands-off", federal and state privacy laws come into play. Twenty-six states have enacted laws, and in Florida specifically, it is forbidden to observe a person so closely as to have "clarity to obtain information about identity, habits, conduct, movements, without consent," which does not apply to mapping, agriculture, utility inspections.
So yo! If you or someone you're close with has an unregistered drone, go ahead and take the ten minutes, fork over the $5 and play like a grown-up, because drones are becoming more and more affordable and therefore more prevalent in our beautiful American skies, so we need to work together to insure they don't ever interfere with the safety of ourselves, our families and our communities.
Sincerely, Your friends at Palafox Computers. Pensacola. Escambia County. Florida.