Will New Drone Regs Hinder Hoosier Business?

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(Image of an unmanned aerial vehicle built by Indiana State University students using 3D printing technology courtesy of ISU.) (Image of an unmanned aerial vehicle built by Indiana State University students using 3D printing technology courtesy of ISU.)

An attorney with Barnes & Thornburg LLP's Indianapolis office says new drone regulations will likely not have too much impact on commercial users, but would result in more oversight for Hoosiers who buy or operate the technology. The U.S. Department of Transportation says it will start requiring registration for drone users, following recent close calls between the unmanned systems and commercial airliners. Todd Dixon, who also spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, does not expect the move to create a big burden for businesses.

Hoosiers who operate a drone or plan to buy one could soon face new regulations. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Monday it will start requiring registration for drone users. Officials say this comes after recent close calls between drones and commercial airliners. The registration will allow the drones to be tracked back to their owners in case of any problems.

The department is hoping to have the new regulations in place by Christmas, but Dixon says that will be an uphill battle.

He says the FAA has a good argument that this is a safety issue, but he expects some pushback from certain model aircraft enthusiasts. 

While some people use drones for business or fun, others are using them for hands-on training. Earlier this year, Indiana State University’s College of Technology received approval from the FAA to operate drone technology at Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field and the Indiana National Guard's Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in southeastern Indiana. Dixon says getting registered will probably be a minor step for ISU.

As the rules change for unmanned aerial vehicles, Dixon says there are many unanswered questions on how the registration process will work. He says it’s a pretty substantial task to get everyone to register, but the move will make the airspace safer.

Attorney Todd Dixon says the rule is understandable and believes it’s a positive development.
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