Could Drone Registration Actually Increase Incidents?


Tiny hex

Register it?

This week the Department of Transportation announced the formation of a task force to create a drone registration process with registration to begin as soon as the holiday season.

Setting aside my skepticism that any government body can design and implement a robust registration system in just two months, it occurs to me that this registration system might actually increase the number of drone related incidents.


Up to now the legality of drones has been a bit of a fuzzy area with almost no regulations in place that cover this new field. This means that while they are not illegal, they have not really been approved by any official body either.

Under this setup enthusiasts (such as myself) are understandably wary when other people are about. I have literally set up to fly at a wide open space only to pack everything up before getting off the ground because a jogger showed up.

There are also quite a few people that want to buy a drone but have held back convinced that the Government was about to ban them outright.

By providing drone registration the government, at a stroke, legitimizes drones.  A situation similar to what six day-care centers discovered when they accidentally legitimized late pickups of kids by implementing fines.

Once my drones are registered I guarantee I won’t be packing things up when Mrs. Smith shows up to walk her dog.  I’ll still be safe and courteous but I will no longer be invisible, happy in the knowledge that if challenged I can whip out my registration card and show that I’m legit.  

Similarly people that have been waiting to see if drones will be banned will suddenly be given the green light just in time for Christmas.  DJI and 3DR may well be rubbing their hands in glee at the moment.

More people flying  +  less inhibition = more incidents

One would hope that the anticipated increased education that comes with registration would help keep incidents to a minimum but that, of course, assumes the buyers actually read the instructions.

You know what they say about unintended consequences…they are still consequences!


Filed under Building Multirotors, Drones, The Human Condition

3 responses to “Could Drone Registration Actually Increase Incidents?

  1. Steve Mann

    Increase incidents? What incidents?

    Do you mean the FAA database of drone sightings? A drone sighting does not mean an incident. It is not an indicator of danger. It is not a metric of aviation safety. It only means some saw a drone.

    The panic, here, is completely out of any sort of proportion to reality.

    Today (if this is an average day):
    1560 people will die from Cancer
    268 people in US hospitals will die because of medical mistakes.
    162 people will be wounded by firearms in the US.
    117 Americans will die in an automobile accident.
    98 people in the US will die from the flu.
    53 people will kill themselves with a firearm.
    46 children will suffer eye injuries.
    37 will die from AIDS.
    30 people will die in gun-related murders.
    3 General Aviation airplanes will crash in the US.
    0 people will be seriously injured or killed by a small drone accident.

    Zero. Why are so many otherwise rational people so terrified of zero?

    There is absolutely no factual evidence to support the fear and ignorance around small personal drones. There have been hundreds of thousands of hours of flight of small drones, yet there is not one verifiable report of a drone crash that resulted in a serious injury as defined by the NTSB to someone not connected to the flight. Not one. (A Band-Aid is not a serious injury- See CFR 49 §830.2). There is also not one verifiable report of a collision between a small drone and a manned aircraft. Not one. An FAA executive speaking to a nervous audience of helicopter operators at HAI Heli-Expo in Orlando (March 2015) and said that while there’s never been a reported contact between an sUAS and a civilian aircraft, the military has some experience in that regard. In all cases the aircraft was virtually unscathed while the UAS was “smashed to pieces.”

    Small UAVs do not pose any significant risk to anyone. “Dangerous” and “invasion of privacy” concerns are ridiculous, driven by paranoia borne of ignorance and lazy reporting. Where’s the blood and mayhem to justify the perception that small personal drones are a threat to public safety?

    • I am 100% in agreement.
      To be clear “incidents” in this context means any “bad”, or perceived to be bad, interactions that include drones. That could be people flying near airports, over major sporting events, or even just people believing (rightly or wrongly) that they are being spied upon.
      People are concerned about these not because they are high risk but simply because they are ignorant of the risks and capabilities of these things. Ignorance breeds fear and the media knows that fear = ratings.
      Like shark attacks they garner big news not because they happen often but precisely because they are rare.
      The FAA/DOT seem to believe that registration will solve this. It will not. There might be a few cases where problem drones are traced back to owners but, in the vast majority of cases, the drone will not be available. In addition people that will ignore the rules (because of ignorance or intent) will not be registered. Only law abiding citizens will be affected.

      • Steve Mann

        Since drones are considered aircraft, “incidents” and “serious accidents” should be held to the same metric as manned aircraft.

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