FAA final rule on Remote ID for drones arrives with a few major changes

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published its final rule on Remote ID for drones, clarifying the details about the previously announced remote identification plan and providing the details manufacturers will need to ensure their drones meet the requirements. Remote ID aims to provide national security officials and law enforcement with a way to identify drones posing a risk to the public.

Consumer drones have grown in popularity over the past few years, sending government regulators scrambling to develop regulations. Concerns exist at both the national security and public safety levels — drones could potentially be used to gather data on vital infrastructure, for example, and hobbyist UAVs could be accidentally crash into someone on the ground.

One big problem has involved identifying drones that are found breaking the rules, including ones that are operated too close to airports and in other restricted airspaces. Remote ID aims to help solve this problem by having the drone itself broadcast identifying information that law enforcement and security officials can pick up.

Under the Remote ID regulation, all drones registered with the agency must be able to broadcast their identifying details; this also applies to drones that weigh less than 250 grams, but that are used for commercial purposes. The FAA notes in its final rule that, among other things, it has removed the part about requiring drones to have network-based transmission capabilities.

Other major changes in the final rule include:

- 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 FAA describes the Remote ID final rule as 'a major step toward the full integration of drones into the national airspace system.' Drone operators will have the option of flying drones that come with a Remote ID broadcasting feature or one that has a Remote ID broadcast module added on. The full Remote ID final rule summary can be found here [PDF].