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US moves toward mandatory registration of drones

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Washington: Owners of drones weighing 250 grams or more should provide authorities with their name and address and put an ID number on the aircraft, experts hired by the US government recommended today.

The tips came as the government rushes to make registration for the popular aircraft mandatory ahead of an expected onslaught of Christmas purchases of them.

The recommendations were made by the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force, which was chartered by the Federation Aviation Administration.

The group said registration should apply to ones weighing 250 grams (.55 pounds) up to a limit of 25 kilos (55 pounds), said Dave Vos, co-chairman of the task force.

Registration is designed to limit illegal or dangerous flying of drones, which is on the rise.

The experts’ recommendations mark the first step toward adopting of a formal law to this effect.

Drones can be as small and simple as children’s toys or larger and highly sophisticated, used by aficionados to do aerial stunts and film from the sky.

But the littlest ones — very light and with batteries enabling them to fly for just a short while — would be exempt from registration under the recommendations released Monday.

The working group included people from the recreation industry, police, airline pilots, flying clubs, manufacturers of mini-cameras often mounted on drones and representatives of big retailers like Walmart or Amazon, for which drones might some day be a way to make deliveries.

Current US law bars drone operators from flying them above an altitude of 400 feet (120 meters) or near an airport.

But the rules are often flouted and authorities are often powerless to do anything about it.

In cases of mishaps, “finding the drone has not been as much of a problem as finding the person who was using the drone. The registration is designed to close that loophole,” US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said last month.

The FAA is afraid of events like a drone hitting an airliner as it takes off or lands.

Several months ago a man was charged after flying a drone a few hundred meters from the White House.

And this year’s US Open tennis tournament was interrupted at one point when a drone appeared over the court at Flushing Meadows in New York.