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The United States will soon require many operators of drones to register their aircraft with the federal government.

Federal officials announced the decision on Monday. The move resulted from a growing number of reports of drones flying too close to airplanes around some of the nation’s biggest airports.

The government says pilot sightings of drones have doubled since last year. This includes sightings near manned aircraft and major sporting events, and interference with wildfire-fighting operations, it said.

“When you are entering the national airspace, it’s a very serious matter,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "It’s a matter of responsibility that we will take seriously and there are penalties for those who refuse to do so.”

Larger drones are considered more of a threat to public safety than smaller drones. The smaller ones often weigh less than a kilogram and are not equipped to fly higher than a few meters.

Officials say the registration will make flyers responsible and easy to identify when their aircraft enters protected airspace or breaks a law.

To work on details of the registration program, the Federal Aviation Association and the Transportation Department will set up a 25- to 30-member task force. The group will include government and industry officials and hobbyists, people who fly drones for pleasure.

100 Reports a Month

The FAA now receives about 100 reports a month from pilots who say they have seen these small, unmanned aircraft flying near planes and airports. That is compared to only a few observations per month last year.

In July, there was a dangerous situation between a drone and a passenger jet at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, NBC News reported. The plane was carrying 159 people.

Richard Hanson from the Academy of Model Aeronautics warned against establishing rules on toy aircraft. He suggested better limits for registration.

The task force will propose by November 20 which aircraft need to register and come up with an easy process for registration. The registration rules should be announced before the end of the year.

There is no official count of how many drones exist in the U.S., but industry officials expect a million such planes will be sold during the winter holiday season.

I'm Mario Ritter

This report was based on this story from VOANews.com. Lucija Millonig adapted the report for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

drones – n. an unmanned flying machine

aircraft – n. a flying machine

sightings – n. seeing someone or something

matter – n. an issue or problem, something to consider

penalties – n. punishments

toy – n. a plaything; an object for play or entertainment

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