Another daunting challenge is how the FAA will apply the complex set of existing aircraft registration rules, which govern everything from how to apply a plane’s identification number to the paper forms that must be used.
“If they can go mandate registration and marking, they still have the problem of having to go and change all the regulations down-line,” Terry Miller, owner and president of Transport Risk Management Inc., a Colorado aviation insurance company that has written thousands of policies on drones as well as
U.S. law requires that an aircraft owner attach a metal plaque to a plane so it can be identified after an accident, Miller said. Such plaques are impractical for light-weight drones, he said. The law also specifies that an application to register an aircraft be made on a paper form, not in the streamlined online application envisioned by the task force.
Instead of writing a new set of regulations for drone registration, the FAA is using the existing rules on the books governing all aircraft, the agency said in an explanation of the action on Oct. 22.
If it relies on existing regulations, the agency may have to use its emergency powers to carve out exemptions for registering drones. That process has made some participants uneasy as the agency attempts to apply its rules to this new class of flying devices.
“The FAA is going to have to explain to the public why it chooses to apply certain of the federal aviation regulations to model aircraft and not others,” said E. Tazewell Ellett, another former FAA chief counsel who is co-chair of Hogan Lovells’