You Should Know About These Two New Drone Rules: Remote ID & Operations over People
Credit: The Federal Aviation Administration
On December 28th, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that they released two final rules for flying drones. These new rules concern Remote Identification and the authorization to fly over people and at night under certain conditions. In their press release, the FAA revealed that there are currently over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots. These measures are part of an effort to facilitate the drone industry's growth and the safe integration of drones into national airspace. Together, these new rules are supposed to also provide “increased flexibility”.
We’ve discussed Remote ID a few times before on this blog. Last year, we reported that the FAA had issued a Request for Information for a remote ID system. The request was issued in December of 2018 and closed in February of 2019. On December 31st, 2019, the FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for remote identification of UAS. In February of 2020, we reported that citizens could voice their opinion on the notice by submitting an official comment to the Federal Register.
At that time, there were over 10,00 public comments posted. Some citizens railed against the notice, and others voiced their concerns for how the rule would impact them. A common theme among the comments was the potential impact such a rule would have on hobbyists, and this thread continues in people’s comments on the final rule. While things are moving forward for those in the drone industry, hobbyists and recreational fliers feel that these new rules are essentially barriers. The FAA’s official Twitter account tweeted about the announcements. Some users' reactions were negative since they saw the rule as an obstacle to those who fly drones recreationally. Others were unconcerned. Replies to the FAA’s tweet included the following comments:
Ultimately, utilizing remote ID with drones is supposed to support the integration of drones into the national airspace system, an active effort that has been ongoing for some time now. Notably, there was the creation of the LAANC, the application process for obtaining authorization to enter the national airspace system, which is supported by the government and private businesses. Also, it was a topic at the 5th Annual FAA UAS Symposium. On the subject, the FAA states in their press release, “Airspace awareness reduces the risk of drone interference with other aircraft and people and property on the ground.”
The new Remote ID rule (Part 89) applies to those who operate drones that require FAA registration. According to the press release, these operators can comply with the new operational requirements in three ways:
Operate a standard Remote ID drone that broadcasts identification and location information of the drone and control station
Operate a drone with a Remote ID broadcast module (may be a separate device attached to the drone), which broadcasts identification, location, and take-off information
Operate a drone without Remote ID but at specific FAA-recognized identification areas
More detailed information on this final rule can be found in the executive summary of the Final Rule on Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft (Part 89). The executive summary also includes a section on major changes from the proposed rule to the final rule:
Network-based / Internet transmission requirements have been eliminated. The final rule contains Broadcast-only requirements.
UAS operators under the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations may continue to register with the FAA once, rather than registering each aircraft. However each Standard UA or Broadcast Module serial number must also be entered into the registration record for the unmanned aircraft.
‘Limited Remote ID UAS’ has been eliminated and replaced with Remote ID Broadcast Module requirements to enable existing UA to comply.
FRIA applications may be submitted to the FAA beginning 18 months after the effective date of the rule, and applications may be submitted at any time after that.
Educational institutions may now apply for FRIAs as well as community-based organizations.
The final rule on flight operations over people (OOP) and at night has been highly anticipated. Because of the current Part 107 federal regulations, pilots are prohibited from operating at night and over people. To do so requires a waiver from the FAA. With the new rule, these operations are allowed depending on the operation's level of risk. They are permitted based on four categories of eligibility. These categories are covered in detail in the executive summary. Before operating at night, remote pilots must complete either the updated initial test or the updated recurrent online training.
Per the new rules, small drone operators must have their remote pilot certificate and identification in their physical possession when operating if they need to present them to authorities. Also, the requirement to complete a recurrent test every 24 calendar months has been replaced with a requirement to complete updated recurrent training that includes operating at night in identified subject areas. Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID. Then operators will have an additional year to start using them. For more information and inquiries related to this announcement, citizens are directed to contact the FAA by calling 844-FLY-MY-UA or emailing the FAA at email@example.com.
Tyesha Ferron is a writer and an artist based in Atlanta, Georgia. Specializing in digital art, Tyesha loves exploring the new ways technology intersects with culture and how drones make things more efficient and accessible for artists, hobbyists, and industry professionals. As a novice drone enthusiast, she continues to be impressed by what the drone community and industry can accomplish. Instagram: @tyesha.ferron