Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UAS, 63912-63914 [2015-26874]

Download as PDF 63912 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 204 / Thursday, October 22, 2015 / Rules and Regulations asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES workers but does not mandate a specific reduction. See 48 U.S.C. 1806(d)(2). In addition, DHS regulations provide that the numerical limitation for any fiscal year will be less than the number established for the previous fiscal year, and that it will be reasonably calculated to reduce the number of CW–1 nonimmigrant workers to zero by the end of the program. 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(C). DHS may adjust the numerical limitation at any time by publishing a notice in the Federal Register, but may only reduce the figure. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(D). To comply with these requirements, meet the CNMI’s labor market’s needs, provide opportunity for growth, and preserve access to foreign labor, DHS has set the numerical limitation for FY 2016 at 12,999. DHS arrived at this figure by taking the number of CW–1 nonimmigrant workers needed based on the FY 2015 limitation of 13,999, and then moderately reducing it by 1,000 or approximately 7.2 percent. The new number will accommodate continued economic growth within the CNMI that might result in a need for additional CW–1 nonimmigrant workers during FY 2016. Therefore, CNMI businesses can continue to hire CW–1 workers to meet their current and future need for foreign workers. In setting this new numerical limitation for FY 2016, DHS considered its effect in conjunction with the published media reports indicating that the CNMI economy continues to grow 1 and that any reduction in the number of CW–1 workers available will have to account for new investments and the expansion of existing businesses in order to support such economic growth.2 For the aforementioned reasons, DHS recognizes that any numerical limitation must account for the fact that the CNMI economy continues to be based on a workforce composed primarily of foreign workers. Therefore, any new fiscal year numerical limit should allow for economic growth until the end of the transitional worker program, which is now December 31, 2019. DHS must reduce the annual numerical limitation as statutorily mandated, but also should ensure that there are enough CW–1 workers for future fiscal years until the end of the program. 1 See Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa, CNMI Sustaining Economic Growth Momentum, Marianas Variety, June 30, 2015, available at http:// pidp.eastwestcenter.org/pireport/2015/June/06-3019.htm. 2 See Raquel C. Bagnol, Labor Chief Says CW Allocation Needs to be Revisited, Marianas Variety, June 17, 2015, available at http:// www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/77978labor-chief-says-cw-allocation-needs-to-be-revisited. VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Oct 21, 2015 Jkt 238001 As noted previously, Congress has mandated that the transition period end on December 31, 2019, without the possibility of an administrative extension of the CW program. See 48 U.S.C. 1806(a), (d). Given this firm sunset date and the CNRA’s requirement to reduce the number of transitional workers to zero by the end of the transition period, DHS believes that a prudent approach to the numerical limit for the next fiscal year is to institute a meaningful but moderate reduction in the numerical limitation. As such, DHS believes that a reduction of 1,000 is appropriate for FY 2016. This new baseline preserves access to foreign labor within the CNMI and provides a cushion for demand growth, yet provides a meaningful reduction that aids DHS in the implementation of the mandated cap reductions to zero over the transition period. Accordingly, DHS is reducing the number of transitional workers from the current fiscal year numerical limitation of 13,999, and establishing the maximum number of persons who may be granted CW–1 nonimmigrant status in FY 2016 at 12,999. The FY 2016 numerical limitation for CW–1 nonimmigrant workers will be in effect beginning on October 1, 2015. DHS still retains the ability to adjust the numerical limitation for a fiscal year or other period, in its discretion, at any time by notice in the Federal Register. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(C) and (D). Consistent with the rules applicable to other nonimmigrant worker visa classifications, if the numerical limitation for the fiscal year is not reached, the unused numbers do not carry over to the next fiscal year. See 8 CFR 214.2(w)(1)(viii)(E). Generally, each CW–1 nonimmigrant worker with an approved employment start date that falls within FY 2016 3 will be counted against the new numerical limitation of 12,999. Counting each CW–1 nonimmigrant worker in this manner will help ensure that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not approve requests for more than 12,999 CW–1 nonimmigrant workers. This document does not affect the current immigration status of foreign workers who have CW–1 nonimmigrant status. Foreign workers, however, will be affected by this document when their CNMI employers file: • For an extension of their CW–1 nonimmigrant classification, or • A change of status from another nonimmigrant status to that of CW–1 nonimmigrant status. 3 FY 2016 refers to the period between October 1, 2015, and September 30, 2016. PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 This document does not affect the status of any individual currently holding CW–2 nonimmigrant status as the spouse or minor child of a CW–1 nonimmigrant worker. This document also does not directly affect the ability of any individual to extend or otherwise obtain CW–2 status, as the numerical limitation applies to CW–1 principals only. This document, however, may indirectly affect individuals seeking CW–2 status since their status depends on the CW–1 principal’s ability to obtain or retain CW–1 status. Jeh Charles Johnson, Secretary. [FR Doc. 2015–26963 Filed 10–21–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 9111–97–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Office of the Secretary Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Chapter I [Docket No. FAA–2015–4378] Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UAS Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration. ACTION: Clarification and request for information. AGENCY: This document clarifies the applicability of the statutory requirements regarding aircraft registration to UAS, including those operating as model aircraft. In addition, the DOT announces the formation of a UAS registration task force to explore and develop recommendations to streamline the registration process for UAS to ease the burden associated with the existing aircraft registration process. This document requests information and recommendations regarding what information and registration platform would be appropriate for UAS registration and ways to minimize the burden to the regulated community. In addition, we request comment on which UAS, based on their weight or performance capabilities, warrant a continued exercise of discretion with respect to requiring registration because of the negligible risk they pose to the national airspace system (NAS). DATES: This clarification goes into effect October 22, 2015. To assist the task force in developing its recommendations, the Department SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22OCR1.SGM 22OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 204 / Thursday, October 22, 2015 / Rules and Regulations requests that comments in response to the request for information be submitted to docket FAA–2015–4378 at www.regulations.gov, by November 6, 2015. The docket will remain open after this time and the Department will consider all comments received in developing a registration process. ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods: • Federal Rulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Fax: 202–493–2251. • Mail: Dockets Management System; U.S. Department of Transportation, Dockets Operations, M–30, Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590– 0001. • Hand Delivery: To U.S. Department of Transportation, Dockets Operations, M–30, Ground Floor, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590–0001, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Instructions: Include the agency name and docket number FAA–2015–4378 for this document at the beginning of your comment. Note that all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov including any personal information provided. If sent by mail, comments must be submitted in duplicate. Persons wishing to receive confirmation of receipt of their comments must include a selfaddressed stamped postcard. Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of any written communications and comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the document (or signing the document, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review DOT’s complete Privacy Act Statement at http://www.dot.gov/ privacy. Docket: You may view the public docket through the Internet at http:// www.regulations.gov or in person at the Docket Operations office at the above address (See ADDRESSES). FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions regarding this document may be directed to Earl Lawrence, Director, FAA UAS Integration Office, 800 Independence Ave. SW., Washington DC 20591; phone: (202) 267–6556; email: UASRegistration@faa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112–95) VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Oct 21, 2015 Jkt 238001 (the Act), Congress mandated that the DOT, in consultation with other government partners and industry stakeholders, develop a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil UAS in the NAS. Since 2012, the Department has made progress in enabling UAS operations, through issuing exemptions under section 333 of the Act to permit commercial operations; creating a UAS test site program to encourage further research and testing of UAS operations in realworld environments; issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking, Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (RIN 2120–AJ60) (small UAS NPRM), that sets forth a framework for integrating small UAS operations in the NAS; and developing a Pathfinder program to encourage research and innovation that will enable advanced UAS operations. A foundational statutory and regulatory requirement that the Department has employed for each of these integration programs is aircraft registration and marking. In order to operate in the NAS, the Department must ensure that operators are not only aware of the system in which they are operating, but that we also have a means to identify and track the UAS to its operator. One means to accomplish this is through aircraft registration and marking. To date, UAS operators that the Department has authorized have been required to register their UAS through the FAA’s existing paper-based registration process under 14 CFR part 47. As an exercise of discretion, historically we have not required model aircraft to be registered under this system. UAS hold enormous promise for our economy and for the aviation industry. But for the industry to develop to its full potential, we have to ensure that it develops safely. Over the past several months, we have received increasing reports of unauthorized and unsafe use of small UAS. Pilot reports of UAS sightings in 2015 are double the rate of 2014. Pilots have reported seeing drones at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, or as close as half-a-mile from the approach end of a runway. In recent weeks, the presence of multiple UAS in the vicinity of wild fires in the western part of the country prompted firefighters to ground their aircraft on several occasions. These UAS operations are unsafe and illegal. However, only a small percentage of these incidents have resulted in enforcement actions against individuals for unsafe or unauthorized UAS operation because identifying an individual or entity responsible for the dangerous operation of UAS is very PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 63913 difficult. This situation is troubling to the unmanned aircraft industry, to responsible model aircraft users, and to users of the NAS, all of whom always put safety first. The risk of unsafe operations will only increase as more UAS enter the NAS. Some retailers have projected huge holiday sales. We are committed to ensuring that the U.S. continues to lead the world in the development and implementation of aviation technology, and in doing so, that we create a space for the creativity, innovation and exploration that will drive this industry forward in the years and decades ahead. At the same time, we must create a culture of accountability and responsibility among all UAS operators. To maintain safety in the NAS, the Department has reconsidered its past practice of exercising discretion with respect to requiring UAS to be registered, consistent with statutory requirements of 49 U.S.C. 44101–44103, and has determined that registration of all UAS is necessary to enforce personal accountability while operating an aircraft in our skies. Federal law requires that a person may only operate an aircraft when it is registered with the FAA. 49 U.S.C. 44101(a).1 ‘‘Aircraft’’ is defined as ‘‘any contrivance invented, used, or designed to navigate, or fly in, the air.’’ 2 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(6). In 2012, Congress confirmed that UAS, including those used for recreation or hobby purposes, are aircraft consistent with the statutory definition set forth in 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(6). See Public Law 112–95, sec. 331(8), 336 (defining an unmanned aircraft as ‘‘an aircraft that is that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft,’’ and model aircraft as ‘‘an unmanned aircraft that is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere, flown within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft, and flown for hobby or recreational purposes’’); see also Administrator v. Pirker, NTSB Order No. EA–5730, at 12 (Nov. 17, 2014) (affirming that the statutory definition of aircraft is clear and unambiguous and ‘‘includes any air aircraft, manned or unmanned, large or small.’’). Because UAS, including model aircraft, are aircraft, they are subject to FAA regulation, including the statutory 1 The FAA is charged with registering and issuing a certificate of registration to the owner of an aircraft that meets the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 44102. See 49 U.S.C. 44102–03. These statutory requirements are augmented by regulations in part 47 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations. 2 Similarly, FAA regulations define ‘‘aircraft’’ as ‘‘a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.’’ 14 CFR 1.1. E:\FR\FM\22OCR1.SGM 22OCR1 asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with RULES 63914 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 204 / Thursday, October 22, 2015 / Rules and Regulations requirements regarding registration set forth in 49 U.S.C. 44101(a), and further prescribed in regulation at 14 CFR part 47. Historically, the FAA, through the exercise of its discretion, has not enforced the statutory requirements for aircraft registration in 49 U.S.C. 44101 for model aircraft. As evidenced by the recent reports of unsafe UAS operations, the lack of awareness of operators regarding what must be done to operate UAS safely in the NAS, and the lack of identification of UAS and their operators pose significant challenges in ensuring accountability for responsible use. Without increased awareness and knowledge of the statutory and regulatory requirements for safe operation, the risk of unsafe UAS operations will only rise. Aircraft identification and marking will assist the Department in identifying owners of UAS that are operated in an unsafe manner, so we may continue to educate these users, and when appropriate, take enforcement action. Requiring registration of all UAS, including those operated for hobby or recreation, embraces and applies the Academy of Model Aeronautics’ (AMA)’s policy of identification to UAS operators who may not be modelers registered with the AMA. Additionally, it would ensure consistency with other UAS operations currently required to be registered, such as public aircraft, those operated under exemptions, and certificated aircraft, as well as those operations contemplated in the small UAS NPRM. Based on the Department’s experience in registering small UAS authorized by exemptions granted under the authority of section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, and the comments received on the proposed registration requirements in the small UAS NPRM, it is apparent that the current paper-based system for aircraft registration is too burdensome for small UAS, to include model aircraft. To facilitate compliance with the statutory obligation for registration, the DOT is currently evaluating options for a streamlined, electronic-based registration system for small UAS. The Department has convened a UAS registration task force, under the FAA’s authority in 49 U.S.C. 106(p)(5) to designate aviation rulemaking committees. This task force will provide recommendations on the type of registration platform needed to accommodate small UAS, as well as the information that will need to be provided to register these aircraft. The UAS registration task force also will explore and provide recommendations VerDate Sep<11>2014 16:39 Oct 21, 2015 Jkt 238001 on whether it is appropriate for the FAA to continue to exercise discretion with respect to requiring registration of certain UAS based on their weight and performance capabilities. The task force will meet and provide its recommendations to the Department by November 20, 2015. To facilitate the task force’s work, we are requesting information and data from the public in the following areas: 1. What methods are available for identifying individual products? Does every UAS sold have an individual serial number? Is there another method for identifying individual products sold without serial numbers or those built from kits? 2. At what point should registration occur (e.g. point-of-sale or prior-tooperation)? How should transfers of ownership be addressed in registration? 3. If registration occurs at point-ofsale, who should be responsible for submission of the data? What burdens would be placed on vendors of UAS if DOT required registration to occur at point-of-sale? What are the advantages of a point-of-sale approach relative to a prior-to-operation approach? 4. Consistent with past practice of discretion, should certain UAS be excluded from registration based on performance capabilities or other characteristics that could be associated with safety risk, such as weight, speed, altitude operating limitations, duration of flight? If so, please submit information or data to help support the suggestions, and whether any other criteria should be considered. 5. How should a registration process be designed to minimize burdens and best protect innovation and encourage growth in the UAS industry? 6. Should the registration be electronic or web-based? Are there existing tools that could support an electronic registration process? 7. What type of information should be collected during the registration process to positively identify the aircraft owner and aircraft? 8. How should the registration data be stored? Who should have access to the registration data? How should the data be used? 9. Should a registration fee be collected and if so, how will the registration fee be collected if registration occurs at point-of-sale? Are there payment services that can be leveraged to assist (e.g. PayPal)? 10. Are there additional means beyond aircraft registration to encourage accountability and responsible use of UAS? Comments received by November 6, 2015 would be most helpful in assisting PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 the UAS registration task force in developing its recommendations. The comment period will remain open after this period and the Department will consider the comments received, in addition to the UAS registration task force’s recommendations, in developing a stream-lined registration process for small UAS, including model aircraft. Issued in Washington, DC, on October 19, 2015. Anthony R. Foxx, Secretary of Transportation. Michael P. Huerta, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. [FR Doc. 2015–26874 Filed 10–20–15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4910–9X–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 15 CFR Part 950 [Docket No: 150202106–5879–02] RIN 0648–BE86 Schedule of Fees for Access to NOAA Environmental Data, Information, and Related Products and Services National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce. ACTION: Final rule. AGENCY: In this final rule, NESDIS establishes a new schedule of fees for the sale of its data, information, and related products and services to users. NESDIS is revising the fee schedule that has been in effect since 2013 to ensure that the fees accurately reflect the costs of providing access to the environmental data, information, and related products and services. NESDIS is authorized under 15 U.S.C. 1534 to assess fees, up to fair market value, for access to environmental data, information, and products derived from, collected, and/or archived by NOAA. Other than depreciation, costs to upgrade computer hardware and software systems will not be included in the fees charged to users. NESDIS is updating its schedule of fees for access to NOAA Environmental Data, Information, and Related Products and Services as costs of providing access have changed since 2013. DATES: Effective date: November 23, 2015. SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\22OCR1.SGM 22OCR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 204 (Thursday, October 22, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 63912-63914]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-26874]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Office of the Secretary

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Chapter I

[Docket No. FAA-2015-4378]


Clarification of the Applicability of Aircraft Registration 
Requirements for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Request for 
Information Regarding Electronic Registration for UAS

AGENCY: Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation 
Administration.

ACTION: Clarification and request for information.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This document clarifies the applicability of the statutory 
requirements regarding aircraft registration to UAS, including those 
operating as model aircraft. In addition, the DOT announces the 
formation of a UAS registration task force to explore and develop 
recommendations to streamline the registration process for UAS to ease 
the burden associated with the existing aircraft registration process. 
This document requests information and recommendations regarding what 
information and registration platform would be appropriate for UAS 
registration and ways to minimize the burden to the regulated 
community. In addition, we request comment on which UAS, based on their 
weight or performance capabilities, warrant a continued exercise of 
discretion with respect to requiring registration because of the 
negligible risk they pose to the national airspace system (NAS).

DATES: This clarification goes into effect October 22, 2015. To assist 
the task force in developing its recommendations, the Department

[[Page 63913]]

requests that comments in response to the request for information be 
submitted to docket FAA-2015-4378 at www.regulations.gov, by November 
6, 2015.
    The docket will remain open after this time and the Department will 
consider all comments received in developing a registration process.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments by any of the following methods:
     Federal Rulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Fax: 202-493-2251.
     Mail: Dockets Management System; U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Dockets Operations, M-30, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery: To U.S. Department of Transportation, 
Dockets Operations, M-30, Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey 
Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Instructions: Include 
the agency name and docket number FAA-2015-4378 for this document at 
the beginning of your comment. Note that all comments received will be 
posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov including any 
personal information provided. If sent by mail, comments must be 
submitted in duplicate. Persons wishing to receive confirmation of 
receipt of their comments must include a self-addressed stamped 
postcard.
    Privacy Act: Anyone is able to search the electronic form of any 
written communications and comments received into any of our dockets by 
the name of the individual submitting the document (or signing the 
document, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor 
union, etc.). You may review DOT's complete Privacy Act Statement at 
http://www.dot.gov/privacy.
    Docket: You may view the public docket through the Internet at 
http://www.regulations.gov or in person at the Docket Operations office 
at the above address (See ADDRESSES).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions regarding this document may 
be directed to Earl Lawrence, Director, FAA UAS Integration Office, 800 
Independence Ave. SW., Washington DC 20591; phone: (202) 267-6556; 
email: UASRegistration@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    In the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-95) 
(the Act), Congress mandated that the DOT, in consultation with other 
government partners and industry stakeholders, develop a comprehensive 
plan to safely accelerate the integration of civil UAS in the NAS. 
Since 2012, the Department has made progress in enabling UAS 
operations, through issuing exemptions under section 333 of the Act to 
permit commercial operations; creating a UAS test site program to 
encourage further research and testing of UAS operations in real-world 
environments; issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking, Operation and 
Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (RIN 2120-AJ60) (small 
UAS NPRM), that sets forth a framework for integrating small UAS 
operations in the NAS; and developing a Pathfinder program to encourage 
research and innovation that will enable advanced UAS operations.
    A foundational statutory and regulatory requirement that the 
Department has employed for each of these integration programs is 
aircraft registration and marking. In order to operate in the NAS, the 
Department must ensure that operators are not only aware of the system 
in which they are operating, but that we also have a means to identify 
and track the UAS to its operator. One means to accomplish this is 
through aircraft registration and marking. To date, UAS operators that 
the Department has authorized have been required to register their UAS 
through the FAA's existing paper-based registration process under 14 
CFR part 47. As an exercise of discretion, historically we have not 
required model aircraft to be registered under this system.
    UAS hold enormous promise for our economy and for the aviation 
industry. But for the industry to develop to its full potential, we 
have to ensure that it develops safely. Over the past several months, 
we have received increasing reports of unauthorized and unsafe use of 
small UAS. Pilot reports of UAS sightings in 2015 are double the rate 
of 2014. Pilots have reported seeing drones at altitudes up to 10,000 
feet, or as close as half-a-mile from the approach end of a runway. In 
recent weeks, the presence of multiple UAS in the vicinity of wild 
fires in the western part of the country prompted firefighters to 
ground their aircraft on several occasions. These UAS operations are 
unsafe and illegal. However, only a small percentage of these incidents 
have resulted in enforcement actions against individuals for unsafe or 
unauthorized UAS operation because identifying an individual or entity 
responsible for the dangerous operation of UAS is very difficult. This 
situation is troubling to the unmanned aircraft industry, to 
responsible model aircraft users, and to users of the NAS, all of whom 
always put safety first.
    The risk of unsafe operations will only increase as more UAS enter 
the NAS. Some retailers have projected huge holiday sales. We are 
committed to ensuring that the U.S. continues to lead the world in the 
development and implementation of aviation technology, and in doing so, 
that we create a space for the creativity, innovation and exploration 
that will drive this industry forward in the years and decades ahead. 
At the same time, we must create a culture of accountability and 
responsibility among all UAS operators. To maintain safety in the NAS, 
the Department has reconsidered its past practice of exercising 
discretion with respect to requiring UAS to be registered, consistent 
with statutory requirements of 49 U.S.C. 44101-44103, and has 
determined that registration of all UAS is necessary to enforce 
personal accountability while operating an aircraft in our skies.
    Federal law requires that a person may only operate an aircraft 
when it is registered with the FAA. 49 U.S.C. 44101(a).\1\ ``Aircraft'' 
is defined as ``any contrivance invented, used, or designed to 
navigate, or fly in, the air.'' \2\ 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(6). In 2012, 
Congress confirmed that UAS, including those used for recreation or 
hobby purposes, are aircraft consistent with the statutory definition 
set forth in 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(6). See Public Law 112-95, sec. 331(8), 
336 (defining an unmanned aircraft as ``an aircraft that is that is 
operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from 
within or on the aircraft,'' and model aircraft as ``an unmanned 
aircraft that is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere, flown 
within visual line of sight of the person operating the aircraft, and 
flown for hobby or recreational purposes''); see also Administrator v. 
Pirker, NTSB Order No. EA-5730, at 12 (Nov. 17, 2014) (affirming that 
the statutory definition of aircraft is clear and unambiguous and 
``includes any air aircraft, manned or unmanned, large or small.''). 
Because UAS, including model aircraft, are aircraft, they are subject 
to FAA regulation, including the statutory

[[Page 63914]]

requirements regarding registration set forth in 49 U.S.C. 44101(a), 
and further prescribed in regulation at 14 CFR part 47.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ The FAA is charged with registering and issuing a 
certificate of registration to the owner of an aircraft that meets 
the requirements of 49 U.S.C. 44102. See 49 U.S.C. 44102-03. These 
statutory requirements are augmented by regulations in part 47 of 
title 14, Code of Federal Regulations.
    \2\ Similarly, FAA regulations define ``aircraft'' as ``a device 
that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.'' 14 CFR 
1.1.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Historically, the FAA, through the exercise of its discretion, has 
not enforced the statutory requirements for aircraft registration in 49 
U.S.C. 44101 for model aircraft. As evidenced by the recent reports of 
unsafe UAS operations, the lack of awareness of operators regarding 
what must be done to operate UAS safely in the NAS, and the lack of 
identification of UAS and their operators pose significant challenges 
in ensuring accountability for responsible use. Without increased 
awareness and knowledge of the statutory and regulatory requirements 
for safe operation, the risk of unsafe UAS operations will only rise. 
Aircraft identification and marking will assist the Department in 
identifying owners of UAS that are operated in an unsafe manner, so we 
may continue to educate these users, and when appropriate, take 
enforcement action.
    Requiring registration of all UAS, including those operated for 
hobby or recreation, embraces and applies the Academy of Model 
Aeronautics' (AMA)'s policy of identification to UAS operators who may 
not be modelers registered with the AMA. Additionally, it would ensure 
consistency with other UAS operations currently required to be 
registered, such as public aircraft, those operated under exemptions, 
and certificated aircraft, as well as those operations contemplated in 
the small UAS NPRM.
    Based on the Department's experience in registering small UAS 
authorized by exemptions granted under the authority of section 333 of 
the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, and the comments received 
on the proposed registration requirements in the small UAS NPRM, it is 
apparent that the current paper-based system for aircraft registration 
is too burdensome for small UAS, to include model aircraft. To 
facilitate compliance with the statutory obligation for registration, 
the DOT is currently evaluating options for a streamlined, electronic-
based registration system for small UAS. The Department has convened a 
UAS registration task force, under the FAA's authority in 49 U.S.C. 
106(p)(5) to designate aviation rulemaking committees. This task force 
will provide recommendations on the type of registration platform 
needed to accommodate small UAS, as well as the information that will 
need to be provided to register these aircraft. The UAS registration 
task force also will explore and provide recommendations on whether it 
is appropriate for the FAA to continue to exercise discretion with 
respect to requiring registration of certain UAS based on their weight 
and performance capabilities. The task force will meet and provide its 
recommendations to the Department by November 20, 2015. To facilitate 
the task force's work, we are requesting information and data from the 
public in the following areas:
    1. What methods are available for identifying individual products? 
Does every UAS sold have an individual serial number? Is there another 
method for identifying individual products sold without serial numbers 
or those built from kits?
    2. At what point should registration occur (e.g. point-of-sale or 
prior-to-operation)? How should transfers of ownership be addressed in 
registration?
    3. If registration occurs at point-of-sale, who should be 
responsible for submission of the data? What burdens would be placed on 
vendors of UAS if DOT required registration to occur at point-of-sale? 
What are the advantages of a point-of-sale approach relative to a 
prior-to-operation approach?
    4. Consistent with past practice of discretion, should certain UAS 
be excluded from registration based on performance capabilities or 
other characteristics that could be associated with safety risk, such 
as weight, speed, altitude operating limitations, duration of flight? 
If so, please submit information or data to help support the 
suggestions, and whether any other criteria should be considered.
    5. How should a registration process be designed to minimize 
burdens and best protect innovation and encourage growth in the UAS 
industry?
    6. Should the registration be electronic or web-based? Are there 
existing tools that could support an electronic registration process?
    7. What type of information should be collected during the 
registration process to positively identify the aircraft owner and 
aircraft?
    8. How should the registration data be stored? Who should have 
access to the registration data? How should the data be used?
    9. Should a registration fee be collected and if so, how will the 
registration fee be collected if registration occurs at point-of-sale? 
Are there payment services that can be leveraged to assist (e.g. 
PayPal)?
    10. Are there additional means beyond aircraft registration to 
encourage accountability and responsible use of UAS?

Comments received by November 6, 2015 would be most helpful in 
assisting the UAS registration task force in developing its 
recommendations. The comment period will remain open after this period 
and the Department will consider the comments received, in addition to 
the UAS registration task force's recommendations, in developing a 
stream-lined registration process for small UAS, including model 
aircraft.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on October 19, 2015.
Anthony R. Foxx,
Secretary of Transportation.
Michael P. Huerta,
Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
[FR Doc. 2015-26874 Filed 10-20-15; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-9X-P