Feds to announce formation of drone task force

Posted at 6:22 AM, Oct 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-19 06:22:30-04

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Drone owners may want to listen up Monday. The Department of Transportation plans to announce the formation of a task force on drones.

It will tackle the creation of a registration process for people who buy them and follows an announcement by aviation officials that technology is in the works that would identify operators of rogue drones.

Drones going where they shouldn’t have run afoul with regulators — zipping too close to airline flights, crashing at sporting events and hindering aerial wildfire extinguishing operations while they buzz around taking video of the flames.

If drones are registered, they could be traced back to people who bought them, then remote pilots might act more responsibly, an official with knowledge of Monday’s announcement said.

And if not, regulators may be able to more easily find them. That’s the idea behind the DoT task force.

Drone blocking tech

The Federal Aviation Administration receives about 100 reports per month from pilots reporting drone sightings.

To counter drones flying uncomfortably close to airplanes, the FAA announced last week that it is testing anti-drone technology that would detect the ones flying within five miles of select airports.

It can force the drone to land but also pinpoint the drone operator, supporting the push for personal accountability.

The FAA is partnering with information technology company CACI International headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.

Dodgy drones

Here are some examples of recent drone foibles and annoyances:

Drones crashed at two sporting events last month — at the U.S. Open and at the University of Kentucky football stadium during pregame festivities at the Wildcats’ home opener. Luckily, no one was hurt in either incident.

The stadium pilot was a Kentucky student, and the school wasn’t sure at the time what appropriate action to take.

At the U.S. Open tennis match between Flavia Pennetta and Monica Niculescu, a drone whirred around then crashed.

The drone’s operator was arrested on charges of reckless endangerment and related charges.

Two airplanes came within 100 feet of a drone in August while flying near one of the nation’s busiest airports, John F. Kennedy in New York.

Neither plane needed to take evasive action, according to the FAA. Both landed safely and each incident is being investigated by the FAA though it’s unclear whether the two are related.

While California firefighters battled wildfires from the air in July, drones got in the way.

Five “unmanned aircraft systems” prevented California firefighters from dispatching helicopters with water buckets for up to 20 minutes over a wildfire that roared onto a Los Angeles area freeway, burning out cars. Helicopters couldn’t drop water because the five drones hovered over the blaze.