Drones

FAA chief: 181,000 drones registered on gov website

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About 180,000 drones have been registered so far with the Federal Aviation Administration, according to agency chief Michael Huerta. The FAA launched its site just days before the Christmas holiday, before thousands of new drones were unwrapped.

While the issue was contentious for some drone owners and aviation hobbyists, for the FAA the registration system was needed to deal with a growing roster of close encounters between private, recreational drones and passenger aircraft.

"Simply put, registration is all about safety," Huerta said in a Jan. 6 speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. "It provides us with a key opportunity to educate the new generation of airspace users that, as soon as they start flying outside, they're pilots."

Registration costs $5 per person -- for an unlimited number of aircraft -- and remains valid for three years. To encourage registration, the FAA will waive the fee through Jan. 20. 

"[Registration] also will help [drone owners] become part of the safety culture that has been deeply embedded in traditional aviation for more than a century, while still allowing for the recreation and innovation that are staples of American aviation," Huerta said. "And, when necessary, registration will help us track down people who operate unsafely."

Huerta also announced the release of an updated, free iOS version of the B4UFLY app, which alerts drone users about current or upcoming restrictions where they may fly their aircrafts. Android users will have to continue to make due with a beta version of the app.

To make future registration even simpler, Huerta said the FAA hopes to partner with third-party applications -- namely smart phone apps -- "that could enable manufactures or retailers to scan a code on a drone and automatically register it."

Huerta also touched on possible future measures to safely integrate drone usage into the National Airspace program, including increased outreach to publicize No Drone Zones and collaboration with the FAA's Pathfinder Program industry partners.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a staff writer covering civilian agencies, workforce issues, health IT, open data and innovation.

Prior to joining FCW, Gunter reported for the C-Ville Weekly in Charlottesville, Va., and served as a college sports beat writer for the South Boston (Va.) News and Record. He started at FCW as an editorial fellow before joining the team full-time as a reporter.

Gunter is a graduate of the University of Virginia, where his emphases were English, history and media studies.

Click here for previous articles by Gunter, or connect with him on Twitter: @WChaseGunter

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