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(Reuters) — The Obama administration, faced with rising safety and security risks from a surge in unauthorized drone flights, announced a new task force on Monday to develop a new federal register for the owners of unmanned aerial systems.
The task force of both private sector and government officials is charged with recommending by Nov. 20 a process for drone registration that federal authorities hope to have in place before the Christmas holiday, when more than 1 million drones are expected to be purchased by consumers.
"We're going to require operators of drones to register their aircraft," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said at a news conference.
The registry would apply not only to new drone sales, but also to drones already in use, officials said.
The initiative represents the administration's effort to address the rising number of unauthorized drone sightings near airports and crowded public venues. The FAA has reported more than 650 unauthorized drone sightings so far this year, as of Aug. 9, compared with 238 for all of 2014. If sightings continue at that rate, the number would near 1,100 by the year end.
Officials said a registry would help authorities identify the operators of rogue drones, a task that has proved difficult up to now.
The Federal Aviation Administration and other government agencies are also working on technological solutions including systems for tracking drones in flight and preventing them from flying near airports and other public venues where they could pose a safety or security risk.
The Federal Aviation Administration handed out its largest-ever penalty to a drone operator for “endangering the safety of our airspace,” the Administration said in a statement Tuesday.