The below is the full text of the FAA’s recent registration task force rulemaking committee. There are some equations in section 4 that do not translate to the web properly, so here is a link to the document in PDF form.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chartered the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Task Force (RTF) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) (Task Force) to provide recommendations to the FAA “on registration requirements and process for small UAS, including those used for commercial purposes, and all model aircraft.”
Federal law (49 U.S.C. § 44101(a)) requires that a person may only operate an aircraft when it is registered with the FAA. An “aircraft” is defined as “any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air” (49 U.S.C. § 40102(a) (6)). In 2012, Congress confirmed that UAS, including those used for recreation or hobby purposes, are aircraft consistent with the statutory definition set forth in 49 U.S.C. § 40102(a)(6). See Pub. L. 112-95, §§ 331(8), 336. The FAA currently requires civil UAS operators who have been granted operational authority by exemption to register their aircraft. The FAA would also require registration for civil UAS that would be operating under the proposed rule titled Operation and Certification of small UAS (sUAS). See 80 FR 9544 (Feb. 23, 2015).
Although the FAA does not currently enforce the requirement for sUAS used for hobby or recreational purposes to be registered, the rapid proliferation of these aircraft in the national airspace has caused the FAA to reevaluate this policy in the interests of public safety and the safety of the National Airspace System (NAS). On October 22, 2015, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the FAA published the Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UAS (Clarification and RFI). See 80 FR 63912. The Clarification and RFI did three main things: (1) clarified that the statutory requirements regarding aircraft registration of UAS apply to aircraft used for recreational or hobby purposes; (2) announced the formation of this Task Force; and (3) facilitated the Task Force’s work, requesting information and data from the public in 10 specific areas.
The stated objective of the Task Force was to develop recommendations for the creation of a registration process, which ultimately would contribute to an enforceable rule imposed by the FAA. The FAA stated that the intent of establishing this registration framework was to promote a culture of accountability while achieving a maximum level of compliance.
The FAA scoped the Task Force’s objectives at inception, and advised them that deliberations and recommendations were not dependent on the issuance or enactment of new regulation(s) or legislation, thus bound by existing statutes and rules. Additionally, the FAA advised the Task Force that recommendations should only consider sUAS operations covered under existing laws or statutes for which the FAA has direct oversight or responsibility (e.g., indoor sUAS operations were outside of the scope of discussion).
Recommendations from the Task Force are within the bounds of its charter, and may be used at the FAA’s discretion. The FAA may incorporate all, some, or none of the recommendations provided in any rulemaking activity, as well as take any future steps deemed necessary by the Agency to ensure compliance with the registration requirement. The work of the Task Force is an important step toward promoting a safety culture, but it is by no means the only action that can be taken. Any implemented registration system must align with the Agency’s priorities of safety, education, and accountability.
2. OBJECTIVES AND SUMMARY OF ACTIVITIES OF THE TASK FORCE
The Task Force was comprised of individuals from a diverse group of aviation and non-aviation perspectives. The Task Force members were:
- ● 3D Robotics (3DR)
- ● AcademyofModelAeronautics(AMA)
- ● Aerospace Industries Association (AIA)
- ● Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA)
- ● Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
- ● Amazon Prime Air
- ● Amazon Retail
- ● American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE)
- ● Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
- ● Best Buy
- ● Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
- ● DJI
- ● General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA)
- ● GoogleX
- ● GoPro
- ● Helicopter Association International (HAI)
- ● International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
- ● ManagementAssociationforPrivatePhotogrammetricSurveyors(MAPPS)
- ● Measure
- ● NationalAssociationofStateAviationOfficials(NASAO)
- ● National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)
- ● Parrot
- ● Precision Hawk
- ● Small UAV Coalition
- ● WalmartThe FAA charged the Task Force with the following three objectives:
1. Develop and recommend minimum requirements for UAS that would need to be registered. ● Factors to consider include, but are not limited to: technical capabilities and
operational capabilities such as size, weight, speed, payload, equipage, and other
factors such as age of operator.
2. Develop and recommend registration processes.
● Factors to consider include, but are not limited to: electronic means for registration, data retention and storage, fee collection, and information required to be submitted for registration.
3. Develop and recommend methods for proving registration and marking.
and how a UAS will be able to be identified with the registered owner.
To support the FAA in establishing a unique small UAS (sUAS) registration process, the Task Force members participated in preliminary interviews with the FAA between October 22, 2015 and October 30, 2015. To facilitate initial discussions, the Task Force was asked to consider the following questions:
- What methods are available for identifying individual products? Does every UAS sold have an individual serial number? Is there another method for identifying individual products sold without serial numbers or those built from kits?
- At what point should registration occur (e.g., point-of-sale (POS) or prior to operation)? How should transfers of ownership be addressed in registration?
- If registration occurs at POS, who should be responsible for submission of the data? What burdens would be placed on vendor of UAS if DOT required registration to occur at POS? What are the advantages of a point-of-sale approach relative to a prior-to-operation approach?
- Consistent with past practice of discretion, should certain UAS be excluded from registration based on performance capabilities or other characteristics that could be associated with safety risk, such as weight, speed, altitude operating limitations, duration of flight?
- How should a registration process be designed to minimize burdens and best protect innovation and encourage growth in the UAS industry?
- Should the registration be electronic or web-based? Are there existing tools that could support an electronic registration process?
- What type of information should be collected during the registration process to positively identify the aircraft owner and aircraft?
- How should the registration data be stored? Who should have access to the registration data? How should the data be used?
- Will the data be used primarily to hold registrants accountable for accidents or intentional misuse? If so, how will this affect registration by consumers? How will registration be enforced?
- To encourage awareness, should the registration process include an acknowledgment of UAS safe operating rules?
- Should a registration fee be collected and if so, how will the registration fee be collected if registration occurs POS? Are there payment services that can be leveraged to assist (e.g., PayPal)?
- How will a registration program affect sales of drones, future innovation, and the positive economic impacts of the use of drones?
- The effort to register all aircraft will have costs to government, consumers, industry, and registrants. What are these costs, and are these costs clearly outweighed by the benefits to aviation safety?
- Are there additional means to encourage accountability and safe responsible use of UAS?
The Task Force met to discuss the three main objectives over a three-day period between November 3, 2015 and November 5, 2015. Administrator Huerta opened the meeting by asking the Task Force to keep in mind the need to ensure a strong culture of safety and responsibility in the National Airspace System (NAS). The Administrator also highlighted the desire to make registration
as easy as possible for sUAS owners and operators, and to relieve them of burdens associated with registration of larger manned aircraft. The FAA briefed participants on the current statutory requirements and international obligations for aircraft registration before the group began initial discussions on a streamlined registration process and minimum requirements for sUAS that need to be registered. The Task Force was also notified that there is an existing FAA contract in place that could be leveraged to build a baseline registration system and that their input would help frame the parameters for the new system and determine how information could be fed into the system and accessed. The Task Force was then presented with a summary of the most current public comments submitted in response to the Clarification and RFI.
Following the introductory briefing, the industry chair led an open discussion for the group to raise questions and share thoughts regarding the three main objectives of the Task Force. This discussion focused on the goals of the registration process: to educate users on the safe operating rules for sUAS and the need to link the aircraft to the owner or operator in the event of an incident or accident. The Task Force recognized a need to connect responsibility for the aircraft to the owner of the aircraft. The Task Force also agreed that any recommendations need to be rooted in concerns for safety and applicable safety data, where available. The afternoon session of the first day focused on the first objective of the task force: whether certain sUAS should be excluded from registration. The Task Force acknowledged that this should be a risk-based decision. There was much discussion about the low level of risk that we accept today for manned aircraft operations and what is the appropriate level of risk to accept for unmanned aircraft operations, based on the data that is available, and based on distinctions made in other jurisdictions that have identified a lowest- weight cutoff for sUAS regulation.
On day two of the meeting, the co-chairs led with a brief recap of the Day 1 discussion regarding which sUAS should be required to be registered and outlined the goals for the Day 2 discussion, which focused on developing and recommending a registration process and means for proving registration methods and marking sUAS. For this session, the Task Force created breakout groups to help facilitate discussion amongst the members. The third day of the meeting began with a review of the previous days’ work, followed by a facilitated discussion to develop consensus recommendations on the three objectives.
From these discussions, the Task Force developed high-level recommendations for sUAS registration requirements and processes that address the questions posed by FAA. The recommendations in this report reflect the final statements of the Task Force.
3. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
The Task Force agreed that it was outside the scope of the Task Force’s objectives to debate or discuss the DOT Secretary’s decision to require registration of sUAS or the legal authority for the implementation of such a mandate. Once that understanding was reached, the Task Force undertook the task to develop and recommend a registration process that ensures accountability for users of the NAS and encourages a maximum level of compliance with the registration requirement, while not unduly burdening the nascent UAS industry and its enthusiastic owners and users of all ages. The Task Force also sought to define a category of sUAS that should be excluded from the registration requirement because they do not present a significant level of risk to the non-flying public and to users of the NAS.
The Task Force recommendations for the registration process are summarized as follows:
1) Fill out an electronic registration form through the web or through an application (app). 2) Immediately receive an electronic certificate of registration and a personal universal registration number for use on all sUAS owned by that person.
3) Mark the registration number (or registered serial number) on all applicable sUAS prior to their operation in the NAS.
While the brief summary above leaves out some details, like the option of serial number registration, it demonstrates the simplicity of the solution recommended by the Task Force members. This simplicity is what allowed for a consensus recommendation to develop. Any registration steps more burdensome than these three simple steps may jeopardize the likelihood of widespread adoption and would undermine the overall registration philosophy that enabled the Task Force to come to consensus.
Although there were often very divergent views, and some decisions were not unanimous, the Task Force reached general agreement on their recommendations to the FAA with the frequent use of votes. Additionally, the general consensus view of the Task Force is that the recommendations on the three objectives are to be presented together as a unified recommendation, with each of the individual recommendations dependent upon elements in the others. Compromises in positions were made whenever possible to obtain a general consensus, and changes to any of the components could further dilute support among the Task Force members and their constituencies for the final recommendations. It should be noted that the Task Force acknowledged that the timeframe provided for deliberations did not allow for in-depth analysis of all the factors involved in instituting a federal requirement for registering sUAS, nor did it allow for an assessment of the impact of such a mandate on the recreational/hobby community.
Based primarily upon an assessment of available safety studies and risk probability calculations, and notwithstanding determinations in other countries with differing weight thresholds, the Task Force recommended an exclusion from the registration requirement for any small unmanned aircraft weighing a total of 250 grams (g) or less. The 250 grams or less exclusion was based on a maximum weight that was defined as the maximum weight possible including the aircraft, payload, and any other associated weight. In manned aircraft terms, it is the “maximum takeoff weight.”
The Task Force also recommends a free, owner-based registration system with a single registration number for each registrant. (They also suggested that if the FAA is required by statute to charge, that the fee should be $0.001). sUAS owners would be required to register with the FAA, prior to operation in the NAS, by entering their name and street address into a web-based or app based registration system. The system would be powered by an Application Program Interface (API) that would allow multiple app clients to feed registration information into the database, ensuring widespread compliance. Provision of email address, telephone number, and serial number of the aircraft into the system would be optional. Information on U.S. citizenship or residence status would not be required, but there would be a minimum age requirement of 13 years to register. At the time of registration, each registrant would receive a certificate of registration that contains a unique universal registration number (and the aircraft serial number if provided) that can be used on all sUAS owned by the individual. This registration number would be required to be directly marked on or affixed to each sUAS the registrant owns, prior to outdoor operation. This marking would
need to be maintained in a readable and legible condition, and be readily accessible upon visual inspection. If a registrant chose to provide the FAA with the aircraft’s serial number, the registrant would not be required to further mark the sUAS with the FAA-issued registration number , as long as the serial number meets the requirement of being readable, legible, and readily accessible (without the use of tools) upon visual inspection. The Task Force also recommends that the registration process contain some sort of education component which could be similar to the existing content in the Know Before You Fly campaign.
4. TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS
4.1 Minimum Requirements for UAS that Would Need to be Registered (i.e., exclusion from the registration requirement)
The Task Force accepted as a baseline that the registration requirement will only apply to sUAS (i.e., aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds) that are operated outdoors in the NAS. Beyond that baseline, however, the FAA asked the Task Force to recommend additional minimum requirements for sUAS that would need to be registered. In particular, the agency asked the Task Force to consider factors including, but not limited to, technical capabilities and operational capabilities such as size, weight, speed, payload, equipage, and other factors such as the age of the operator.
The safety of the non-flying public and of other users of the NAS was central to the Task Force’s determination of what category of sUAS to recommend for exemption from the registration requirement. With considerations of safety in mind, the Task Force addressed the possibility of recommending an exclusion based on various factors, including: weight (alone and in combination with altitude or kinetic energy), mass, speed, kinetic energy, payload, equipage (e.g., camera, GPS), and operational capabilities, such as the ability to navigate the airspace, the ability to operate above a certain altitude above ground level (AGL), the ability to operate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) of the operator, the ability to operate autonomously, and flight duration.
The Task Force ultimately agreed to use a mass-based approach to determine an appropriate category of sUAS to recommend for exclusion from the registration requirement. This was based upon the probability of a catastrophic event occurring (i.e., death or serious injury) due to a collision between an sUAS and a person on the ground. Because of the lack of data on UAS-aircraft collisions, engine ingestion, propeller, and rotor impacts by UAS, the probability of a catastrophic event occurring due to those events was not part of the consideration. This approach best satisfied the Task Force’s concerns about safety and provided a minimum weight threshold for registration that is easy to understand and apply and would therefore encourage compliance. The formula considered was identified to the group as a standard aviation risk assessment formula used in consideration of manned aircraft safety.
The free fall ground level velocity (V) of an object from 500 feet (ft.) (~152 meters (m)) above ground in a vacuum is determined by contemplating potential and kinetic energy exchange, thus:
=�2∗∗h=(2h)12 = �2∗9.81∗152�12
=54.6 (~122 ) 2 h
The terminal velocity, however, of such an aircraft in free fall through air will be lower than this value and will vary, dependent on effective projected area and drag. For ease of administration and sUAS owner understanding, the task force strongly advised a mass-based approach for determining the generally safe threshold below which an sUAS would not need to be registered. In order to define such a mass threshold, several assumptions need to be made, thus:
Drag coefficient: = 0.3 Projected area: = 0.1 ∗ 0.2 = 0.022
: = 1.225 3
The terminal velocity in free vertical fall through air at sea level is then the steady state condition where:
( ∗ ) = 12 2
�∗9.81�= =1∗�1.225�∗(0.022)∗(0.3)∗2 2 2 3
The kinetic energy (KE) expressed in Joules of an object of mass (M), moving at velocity (V) is determined by the following formula: 1
Referencing information from a 2012 MITRE report (which further references a United Kingdom Ministry of Defense 2010 study), an object with a kinetic energy level of 80 Joules (or approximately 59 foot-pounds) has a 30% probability of being lethal when striking a person in the head.1
Solving for mass and velocity, this equates to an object weighing 250 grams traveling at a terminal velocity of 25 meters/second or approximately 57 miles per hour.
Using these results, it is reasonable to estimate the probability of such a lethal event occurring per sUAS flight hour, by the following approach:
=−1∗� �∗(∗ h)∗∗ h
SUAS = Area of UAS, Sh = Area of human,
Ss = Area of surface,
n = Number of humans
∗ � � ∗ ∗
(For these purposes, we have used population density numbers reflecting a relatively densely packed urban environment. We have done so despite the fact that sUAS operations are prohibited over unprotected persons not connected to the operation).
MTBF = mean time between failures (of the sUAS in hours).
Exposed fraction (EF) = fraction of people outdoors and directly exposed to the falling object at any one time.
1 “A New Paradigm for Small UAS,” Andrew Lacher and David Maroney, available at https://www.mitre.org/sites/default/files/pdf/12_2840.pdf ;“Lethality Criteria for Debris Generated From Accidental Explosions,” Jon Henderson, available at http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA532158.
November 21, 2015 Page 8
If we assume the following values:
MTBF = 100 hours
= 10,000 2
= 0.1 ∗ 0.2 = 0.02 2 : = = 0.2
= h = 0.3
Then, the likelihood (or probability, P) of a catastrophic event can be estimated as:
= 0.02∗0.0039∗0.2∗0.3 100
Pevent = 4.7×10-8, or less than 1 ground fatality for every 20,000,000 flight hours of an sUAS
Considering that the acceptable risk levels for commercial air transport are on the order of 1×10-9, and general aviation actual risk levels are on the order of 5×10-5, this level of risk at 4.7×10-8 seems to present a reasonably acceptable risk level to the Task Force for sUAS that meet the aforementioned assumptions. Some members of the task force questioned why sUAS risk level would ever be required to exceed the current general aviation risk level of 5×10-5.
Based on that calculation, the Task Force recommends that the FAA exempt from the registration requirement any unmanned aircraft weighing 250 grams or less. The 250 grams or less exclusion was based on a maximum weight that was defined as the maximum weight possible including the aircraft, payload, and any other associated weight. In manned aircraft terms, it is the “maximum takeoff weight.”
It is important to note, however, that this recommendation is interdependent on the Task Force’s other recommendations on the registration process. The Task Force spent considerable time discussing and deliberating about what the appropriate weight threshold should be. While general agreement was ultimately reached on the 250 gram weight, there were Task Force members who believed it was too conservative, as the weight could negatively impact the credibility of the sUAS registration program and thus lessen compliance levels because it would require registration of some sUAS generally considered to be in the “toy” category. Others took the opposite view that there should be no registration exemption for UAS of any size. There was also concern that other countries are considering or have already established regulatory cutoffs at much higher weights of 1 kilogram or 2 kilograms. Some also felt there was insufficient time afforded to fully evaluate the calculations and assumptions made that resulted in the 250 gram cutoff weight, particularly because the typical approved operation of small UAS, unlike the typical operation of manned aircraft, does not involve flight over unprotected people.
Certain members of the Task Force asked that it be noted that this is a nascent industry with very little experiential data to inform the assumptions and that periodic review of the data may be warranted. Certain task force members noted that the FAA’s 25 years of bird strike data show that fatal aircraft accidents caused by small and medium birds (weighing four pounds on average) are extremely rare despite the presence of billions of birds within the low altitudes where small UAS typically fly, and urged the FAA to select a weight that posed a similar safety risk. Task force members representing manned aircraft organizations expressed specific concerns that data on UAS- aircraft collisions, engine ingestion, propeller, and rotor impacts by UAS was not available when determining the weight threshold. All members urged the FAA to expedite its work currently underway in this area.
Consensus was reached for a registration system that provides registrants with a single registration number to be used on every aircraft they own and, where applicable, permits registrants to use the manufacturer’s permanently affixed serial number to satisfy the marking requirement. See discussions below in sections 4.2 and 4.3.2, respectively. It should also be noted that the 250 gram weight threshold was agreed to for registration purposes only and was not a validation of the underlying assumptions for any purpose other than the registration requirement. It was agreed by all members that this threshold, arrived at under the circumstances described, should not be used by the FAA to establish operational restrictions or categories in any future rulemaking unless safety concerns require the FAA to take appropriate action.
4.2 The Registration Process
The Task Force approached its discussions of the registration process with two goals in mind – to ensure accountability by creating a traceable link between aircraft and owner, and to encourage the maximum levels of regulatory compliance by making the registration process as simple as possible. To achieve the twin goals of accountability and compliance, the Task Force recommends the FAA institute a simple, owner-based registration system in which the FAA issues a single registration number to each registrant which covers all sUAS owned by that registrant. The Task Force also adopted recommendations related to: (1) the information to be collected during the registration process; (2) the point at which registration should occur; (3) whether the registration process should be electronic or web-based; (4) whether a registration fee should be imposed; and (5) whether there should be a minimum age limit for registration. Because the Task Force is recommending an owner-based registration system, questions concerning how to deal with transfers of ownership are easily addressed by the registrants’ marking methods.
4.2.1 What information should be collected?
Registrant Contact Information
To ensure accountability, the Task Force recommends the FAA require all registrants to provide their name and street address, with the option to provide an email address or telephone number. While the Task Force recognizes that a registrant’s email address and telephone number may be useful for the FAA to disseminate safety-related information to sUAS owners, the Task Force nevertheless believes disclosure of such information should be optional. With the exception of information released to authorized law enforcement agencies and state transportation and aviation offices, the Task Force urges the FAA to prevent the release of any personal information that the
agency is not specifically required by law to disclose. Because this new requirement will impact unmanned aircraft owners who do not have the means to protect their identities and addresses behind corporate structures (as some manned aircraft owners currently do), it is important for the FAA to take all possible steps to shield the information of privately owned aircraft from unauthorized disclosure, including issuing an advance statement that the information collected will be considered to be exempt from disclosure under FOIA.
Because the Task Force is recommending the FAA institute an owner-based registration system, it believes registrants should not be required to provide any aircraft information, such as serial number or make and model of the sUAS, during the registration process. Registrants should, however, have the option to provide the aircraft’s manufacturer serial number, so that the serial number can then be used to satisfy the marking requirement (as discussed below, in section 4.3.2). Additionally, to ensure the broadest possible participation, this registration system should make no distinction for, or impose additional requirements upon, sUAS manufactured or purchased outside the United States.
With the goals of encouraging the growth of the sUAS industry and compliance with the registration requirement in mind, the Task Force recommends there be no U.S. citizenship or residency requirement for registration eligibility. This requirement, which makes sense with respect to the owners of passenger aircraft, does not match the way this technology is used by foreign visitors, students and others who are in the United States temporarily. If, however, the FAA does include a U.S. citizenship or residency requirement, the Task Force recommends that the Agency use its discretion to permit owners not eligible to register to operate in the U.S. by applying for an expedited waiver from the registration requirement for a specified, limited period of time (consistent with §41703(a)(4)). Eliminating the citizenship requirement would help achieve the goal that sUAS owners are known to the FAA for safety purposes.
4.2.2 At what point should registration occur? Should the system be electronic or web- based?
As noted above, 49 U.S.C. § 44101(a) stipulates that a person may only operate an aircraft when it is registered with the FAA. As such, the majority of the Task Force believes the FAA cannot require registration of sUAS at the point-of-sale. Some members of the Task Force expressed the opinion that maximum compliance can best be achieved with point-of-sale registration and those members therefore encourage the FAA to include it as one of several options for registration. Several other members of the Task Force pointed out that, because the FAA’s authority extends only to operation of aircraft, point-of-sale registration cannot be mandated.
An important registration attribute that the Task Force members could broadly agree on was that in order to promote greater acceptance of the registration requirement, the registration process should be as quick and easy as possible. The Task Force encourages the FAA to consider implementing additional methods and strategies to maximize compliance with the registration requirement but without adding cumbersome steps into the process.
The Task Force believes the registration process should be web-based, and that the FAA should create an online registration system that allows for multiple entry points through an Application Program Interface (API). This would allow, for example, an sUAS manufacturer or trade organization to develop an app that communicates through an API by which it can register its customers or members by submitting registration information directly to the FAA database on their behalf. Examples of multiple entry points are web apps, web portals, web browsers, cell phone apps, plug-ins, etc.
The registration information required and the certificate of registration received would be the same regardless of what point of entry is used into the registration system. The online registration system should provide an option for owners to edit and delete their registration information, as well as to view and print physical copies of their registration certificates through access to a password- protected web-based portal.
188.8.131.52 Training and education in conjunction with operator registration
Recognizing how important it is that all users of the NAS receive information on safety in the NAS, the Task Force recommends the registration process contain some sort of education component and acknowledgment, with controls in place such that the registration process would be incomplete until the registrant has acknowledged receipt of this information. The information provided could be similar to the existing content in the Know Before You Fly program.
4.2.3 Should a registration fee be imposed?
To encourage a high level of compliance with the registration requirement, the Task Force believes the FAA should not impose a registration fee. In the event that the FAA must charge a fee for legal reasons, the Task Force suggested a de minimis fee of 1/10th of one cent ($0.001).
4.2.4 Should there be an age limit for registration?
All sUAS flown outdoors and exceeding 250g maximum flight weight must be registered. However, consistent with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6505, the Task Force recommends a requirement that individuals be 13 years or older to register an sUAS. Although acknowledging that some sUAS may be operated by persons younger than 13, the Task Force would thus recommend that registered sUAS owners be 13 years of age or older, and that children under that age operate sUAS under a parent or guardian’s registration.
4.3 Methods for Proving Registration and Marking
The FAA charged the Task Force with developing and recommending methods for proving registration and marking. Factors to consider included, but were not limited to, how registration certificates will be issued and how an sUAS will be able to be identified with the registered owner (i.e., a marking requirement).
The Task Force recommends that the FAA issue a certificate of registration to each registrant at the time of registration. The certificate should be issued electronically (perhaps in PDF format), unless the registrant specifically requests a paper copy. The Task Force recommends that a web or app based system provide registered users with the ability to view and print physical copies of their registration certificates through access to a password-protected portal. Should the FAA provide for generation and mailing of physical certificates, where requested, the Task Force did not object to a reasonable cost-based fee being charged by the FAA for such a service. The certificate should contain the registrant’s name, the registrant’s FAA-issued registration number, and the address of the FAA registration website that is accessible by law enforcement or other authorities for the purposes of confirming registration status. For registrants who elect to provide the serial number(s) of their aircraft, the certificate should also contain those serial number(s). The Task Force encourages the FAA to include safety and regulatory information with the certificate of registration. Any time a registered sUAS is in operation, the operator of that sUAS should be prepared to produce a legible copy of the certificate of registration for inspection, in either electronic or printed form.
4.3.2 Marking Requirement
Because the main goal of registration is to create a connection between the aircraft and its owner, the Task Force recognizes that it is necessary to mark each registered sUAS with a unique identifier that is readily traceable back to its owner. The Task Force recommends two options for complying with this marking requirement. Specifically, registrants can either affix their FAA-issued registration number to the aircraft or they can rely on a manufacturer’s serial number that is already permanently affixed to the aircraft. An sUAS owner may only rely on the manufacturer’s serial number, however, if the owner provided that serial number to the FAA during registration and if it appears on the owner’s certificate of registration.
The Task Force further recommends a requirement that the owner and operator ensure that all markings be readily accessible and maintained in a condition that is readable and legible upon close visual inspection prior to any operation. The Task Force believes that markings enclosed in a compartment, such as a battery compartment, should be considered “readily accessible” if they can be easily accessed without the use of tools.
4.3.3 Penalties and Enforcement
The Task Force recommends that the FAA establish a clear and proportionate penalty framework for violations. Current registration-related penalties (perhaps exceeding $25,000) were established in order to address and deter suspected drug traffickers and tax evaders who failed to register aircraft as part of larger nefarious schemes. Any person flying an sUAS, including consumers and juveniles, may now find themselves inadvertently in violation of this new system. The Task Force recommends that the FAA expressly establish a reasonable and proportionate penalty schedule that is distinct from those relating to traditional manned aviation. To the extent the FAA does not feel it has authority to alter penalty ranges indicated by statute, the Task Force recommends a change be made to Order 2150.3B, FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program, to set out the enforcement and penalty philosophy that the FAA will pursue, including a schedule of penalties.
These recommendations were agreed upon in a spirit of cooperation and compromise. Many Task Force members approached the proceeding with strong convictions, derived both from their personal experience and from knowledgeable input from their organizations and users. In such a time-limited tasking, many of these convictions were necessarily set aside in order to reach a general consensus among the group and to provide the FAA with a workable solution that met its safety and policy requirements while not unduly burdening the nascent UAS industry and its enthusiastic owners and users of all ages.
Each of the recommendations for all the elements of this report required some level of compromise and mutual cooperation from various members of the Task Force. Therefore, the Task Force respectfully requests that the list of recommendations contained herein be viewed by the FAA as a holistic package, with elements of each recommendation closely interconnected with the others. Should the FAA find it necessary to significantly alter any element of its adopted registration system in a way that would contradict the findings and recommendations in this report, the members of the Task Force would respectfully request that the FAA reconvene the Task Force as soon as practicable. This would help to ensure complete industry and UAS community input into the registration system that is ultimately adopted by the agency.
6. APPENDIX Summary of Task Force Recommendations
UAS Registration Task Force Aviation Rulemaking Committee Recommendations Summary
What category of UAS is covered by the registration requirement?
UAS that weigh under 55 pounds and above 250 grams maximum takeoff weight, and are operated outdoors in the NAS.
Do owners need to register each individual UAS they own?
No. The registration system is owner-based, so each registrant will have a single registration number that covers any and all UAS that the registrant owns.
Is registration required at point-of- sale?
No. Registration is mandatory prior to operation of a UAS in the NAS.
What information is required for the registration process?
Name and street address of the registrant are required.
Mailing address, email address, telephone number, and serial number of the aircraft are optional.
Is there a citizenship requirement?
Is there a minimum age requirement?
Yes. Persons must be 13 years of age to register.
Is there a registration fee?
Is the registration system electronic or web-based?
The system for entry of information into the database is web-based and also allows for multiple entry points, powered by an API that will enable custom apps to provide registry information to the database and receive registration numbers and certificates back from the database. Registrants can also modify their information through the web or apps.
How does a UAS owner prove registration?
A certificate of registration will be sent to the registrant at the time of registration. The certificate will be sent electronically, unless a paper copy is requested, or unless the traditional aircraft registration process is utilized. The registration certificate will contain the registrant’s name, FAA-issued registration number, and the FAA registration website that can be used by authorized users to confirm registration information. For registrants who elect to provide the serial number(s) of their aircraft to the FAA, the certificate will also contain those serial number(s). Any time a registered UAS is in operation, the operator of that UAS should be prepared to produce the certificate of registration for inspection.
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Does the registration number have to be affixed to the aircraft?
Yes, unless the registrant chooses to provide the FAA with the aircraft’s serial number. Whether the owner chooses to rely on the serial number or affix the FAA-issued registration number to the aircraft, the marking must be readily accessible and maintained in a condition that is readable and legible upon close visual inspection. Markings enclosed in a compartment, such as a battery compartment, will be considered “readily accessible” if they can be accessed without the use of tools.
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