The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has proposed new rules that would link drone registration to uniform tracking requirements, so that those unmanned aircraft can be digitally followed from takeoff to landing.
If approved, the rules would take effect within three years. While questions remain, we're tentatively on board with the concept.
Drone use has skyrocketed in recent years, and regulators at all levels are trying to catch up. A patchwork of federal, state and local regulations have been inconsistent across borders. Rules typically involve parameters as to where drones can fly, privacy guidelines and a variety of safety standards.
The proposed tracking rules, in general, are intended to prevent midair collisions with airplanes, helicopters and other aircraft. The idea is to feed the tracking information into traditional air-traffic control facilities and automated traffic-control systems.
At the moment, only the smallest hobby drones (under 8 ounces) are exempt.
We're fully in favor of safety rules that prevent drones from interfering with commercial or private airplanes. Human safety should always be first.
One concern is the extent to which the tracking information is used. It seems all data-sharing information has privacy concerns, and we would expect to see data security and privacy safeguards built in to the new system.
Three years is a long time to wait for these regulations to be implemented, given the rapid growth of drone use. We would encourage a speedy process for input from all constituents, and implementation of modified rules as soon as possible.
-- Jon M. Hunter