The use and popularity of drones is increasing day by day. Between now and 2020, Goldman Sachs Research forecasts a $100 billion market opportunity for drones—helped by growing demand from the commercial and civil government sectors. The demand for consumer drones has taken off in the last couple of years and hobbyist drones have become a common sight. The global consumer drones market is estimated to reach US$ 11 billion in 2026. One of the most prominent factors aiding the consumer drones market growth is the fact that these drones are widely adopted by photography enthusiasts.
Unfortunately, there are also those who fly drones in places they’re not supposed to. In Atlanta, owners who flew their drones too close to Mercedes-Benz Stadium had their drones confiscated after the FAA enacted a temporary flight restriction around the stadium in preparation for the Super Bowl. Recently drone sightings shut down the UK’s Gatwick Airport and prompted the airport to install a military-grade anti-drone defense system.
Do you own a #drone? #DYK that you must mark the outside of your drone FAA-issued registration number by February 25 in order to comply with a new #FAA rule? Learn more at https://t.co/V2mzvyKz2F. #FlySafe #MarkYourDrone pic.twitter.com/srxS4ssjfC
— The FAA (@FAANews) February 14, 2019
While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had been hinting at the possibility that drone markings’ specifications will have to be modified in order to satisfy law enforcement concerns regarding visibility and accessibility to said markings it finally published a rule in the Federal Register requiring small drone owners to display the FAA-issued registration number on an exterior surface of the aircraft.
The rule will be effective from February 23 onwards. This interim final rule does not change the original acceptable methods of external marking, nor does it specify a particular external surface on which the registration number must be placed. The requirement is that it can be seen upon visual inspection of the aircraft’s exterior.
In 2015, the FAA mandated that the registration marking should be readily accessible and maintained in readable condition. The rule allowed for the marking to be placed in an enclosed compartment, such as a battery case, provided it could be accessed without the use of tools. The FAA believes this new rule will enhance safety and security by allowing a person to view the unique identifier directly without handling the drone.
The FAA has issued this requirement as an Interim Final Rule — a rule that takes effect while also inviting public comment. In this case, the agency has determined that the importance of mitigating the risk to first responders outweighs the minimal inconvenience this change may impose on small drone owners and justifies implementation without a prior public comment period.
The FAA will however consider comments from the public on this Interim Final Rule. The 30-day comment period will end on March 15, 2019. To submit comments, go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for “RIN 2120-AL32.” The FAA also posted proposed new rules to let drones fly routinely at night and over people, and to further integrate them safely into the nation’s airspace. The comment period for these proposals begins tomorrow and will end April 15.
All these drone rules and extensions to the original Part 107 seem to indicate that the FAA is preparing the industry for a more comprehensive set of laws that would allow for the full integration of manned and unmanned aircraft in controlled airspace.