Feds to make registration of drones mandatory

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DENVER -- Soon every drone user will be required to register their drone with the Federal Aviation Administration.

It might seem too early to talk about the holiday season, but it is a top priority for federal aviation officials. Drones are expected to be the hot holiday item this year.

Experts predict shoppers to buy almost 1 million of them by December, so federal regulators want to get some rules set in stone now.

Private drone users currently are not allowed to fly within five miles of an airport and they have to keep the craft below 400 feet. Soon, all drones will also have to be registered.

“It’s going to be complex for a while. Three to five years, it’s going to be sort of a complex issue, but then it’s going to be every day normal life,” said Skip Miller, CEO of UAS USA, a Longmont-based drone manufacturer.

Miller’s fixed wing aircraft are mostly for commercial and research purposes. He said now everyone seems to want a bird’s eye view too.

“Most people that have them, they have it to go have a little fun. Go shoot some photographs of their house or follow their kids around the backyard,” Miller said.

The problem is some people are not careful with the technology. The FAA said it gets about 100 reports a month about drones flying too close to airplanes or flying in other places they are not allowed. Federal lawmakers worry the problem will get worse when more people have them.

The new registration process is not laid out yet. A task force is working on creating the guidelines. The hope is to have the system set up before Christmas.

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