Just in time for the holiday gift-giving season, during which as many as one million drones are expected to be sold, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced last week that new rules and regulations regarding drone use are coming soon.

The FAA has named a task force to develop a system for drone registration by mid-December of this year.  The registration process is seen as a way to inject measures of safety and accountability in drone use– as part of the registration process, drone operators will learn about safe drone operation, and in the event of a drone crash, registered drones can be traced back to their owners.

The FAA is expected to issue more comprehensive drone rules in spring 2016, but the push to regulate drones stems in part from recent high-profile incidents involving drones.  At the U.S. Open in September, a drone crashed into a section of empty seats during a match.  Earlier in the summer, firefighters’ efforts to combat wildfires in California were reportedly hindered by drones flying in the area.  And the number of drones seen by airline pilots while in flight has steadily multiplied.

There are currently an estimated 700,000 drones in use around the country, and it is still unclear whether owners of these drones will be required to register with the FAA under its new process.  New drone operators will be required to register, but it is likely that only owners of larger drones – that can fly thousands of feet in the air – will fall under the registration requirement.  Owners of smaller “toy” drones – that can only fly a few hundred feet – are likely to be exempt.

Any federal regulations regarding drone use are sure to be followed by local regulations.  Mulcahy Law Firm, P.C., will continue to keep you informed on the latest news regarding drone use in our communities.  For additional information on this issue, or to ask how drone use can be regulated in your association, please contact us.