FAA Names Members of National Drone Registry Task Force

 - October 29, 2015, 4:28 PM
The Parrot Bebop quadcopter. Parrot is among drone manufacturers represented on the FAA's registry task force. (Photo: Bill Carey)

The Federal Aviation Administration named 26 individuals representing aviation and unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) trade organizations, drone and camera suppliers, and major retailers including Walmart to a recently announced group tasked with developing drone registration requirements in the next three weeks.

Responding to a surge in reported rogue drone sightings, and concern that upward of a million drones will be given as gifts during the upcoming holiday season, the FAA and its parent agency, the Department of Transportation (DOT) earlier this month announced plans to establish a national registry of small drone owners. They pledged to immediately form an industry-government task force to develop recommendations for creating the registry by November 20. The agencies’ stated goal is to have rules in place by mid-December.

Some organizations and individuals revealed in advance that they had been asked to sit on the invitation-only committee. On October 29, the FAA released the full list of industry members who will serve on the UAS Registration Task Force. Those members will receive “expert support” from representatives of several federal agencies, including the departments of Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, NASA, the Office of Management and Budget and the State Department. Earl Lawrence, director of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office, and Dave Vos, who heads Google’s Project Wing effort, will serve as co-chairmen.

Traditional trade organizations representing the aviation industry comprise about a third of the task force membership. They include: the Aerospace Industries Association, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the American Association of Airport Executives, the National Business Aviation Association, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Helicopter Association International and the National Association of State Aviation Officials.

Joining the aviation organizations on the task force are the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, which dates to the 1970s, the newer Small UAV Coalition and the 1936-vintage Academy of Model Aeronautics.

Counting the Small UAV Coalition, the Consumer Electronics Association and small drone manufacturers, retail interests hold 11 seats at the table. Among companies represented are electronics big-box store Best Buy and retail giant Walmart. On October 26, Walmart applied to the FAA for a commercial exemption to test DJI multi-rotor drones for applications that include surveillance of its distribution center buildings and parking lots and ferrying groceries from a retail outlet to customers in the parking lot. Google also envisions delivering packages by drone, as does Amazon, which has two seats at the table. Drone manufacturers represented are DJI, 3D Robotics, Parrot, PrecisionHawk and camera maker GoPro.

Rounding out the task force are representatives of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors, and aerial imagery and data provider Measure.

According to the FAA announcement, the task force will meet from November 3-5 to develop recommendations for a streamlined registration process.

Questions the FAA has are contained in a notice the agency published in the Federal Register on October 22. For example, it seeks direction on whether a drone buyer should register the machine at the point-of-sale or prior to operation, and how transfers of ownership will be addressed. The FAA also wants to know if the registration process should be web-based, what type of information should be collected and how it should be stored. It is also contemplating whether to charge a registration fee.