SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Federal regulators will require the registration of most drone aircraft to help track operators who flout safety rules and to encourage greater accountability.
San Jose International Airport has had several close calls between planes and drones. It wasn’t an issue two years ago, but now it’s happening more in Silicon Valley than in other part of the Bay Area.
The latest report by the Federal Aviation Administration said Mineta San Jose had the most, with 15 close calls from December to August of this year. In that same time frame there were 650 total unauthorized sightings, nearly triple all of last year’s number.
One pilot for FedEx flying a Boeing 767 jet reported a drone buzzing past him only 60 feet away — all this happening at an altitude of 11,000 feet.
Now the U.S. Department of Transportation is set to announce Monday that all drone operators are to register their unmanned aerial vehicles.
The FAA signed an agreement last month with CACI International Inc., an information technology company in Arlington, Virginia, to test technology that could locate the operators of small drones that are flying illegally near airports. The technology would let the government track radio signals used to operate drones within a 5-mile radius and identify the operator’s location.
Officials are also forming an independent drone advisory committee. Back in 2012, Congress decided not to regulate recreational drones.
But drone enthusiasts say getting every person, including children, out there to follow this new federal law is going to be difficult.
“The Pandora’s box is open — it’s out. You can’t get them back in,” said drone enthusiast Bill Welch. “And all these kids are going to be getting them for Christmas this year. They’re supposed to register every one of these little things that come in a cereal box? I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
The feds are expected to have the drone registry in place for the holidays. The Consumer Electronics Association has forecast that 700,000 drones will be sold this holiday season.
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