FAA proposes new rule to easily ID rogue drones - and track the rest

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has published its Remote ID rule proposal, detailing the system it envisions for identifying and locating the vast majority of drones operated in the United States. Under the proposed rule, drones that weigh more than 0.55lbs, including ones used exclusively for recreation, would be required to broadcast identifying information using one or two different acceptable methods.

The FAA issued its proposed drone Remote ID rule on Thursday; the full proposal can be read by the public (PDF) on the Federal Register now. The agency says that it will launch a 60-day comment period starting 'in the next few days' that will allow the public to offer their feedback on the proposal before the requirement is established with a final rule.

Put simply, the Remote ID rule will require the majority of drones, including recreational ones, to broadcast certain information under what the FAA calls 'standard' and 'limited' methods. The standard remote ID broadcast would involve location and identification info to be broadcasted by the UAS itself. At the same time, the information would also be transmitted to a Remote ID USS using an Internet connection.

The 'Limited' remote ID method would only involve transmitting the data through the Internet; the broadcast by the UAS wouldn't apply. In this case, the drone would have to be designed to 'operate no more than 400 feet from the control station,' according to the proposed rule. The FAA says the 'vast majority' of drones in the US would have to comply with either of these methods.

As mentioned, there will select situations in which a drone is exempt from this rule. One situation involves drones weighing less than 0.55lbs; the other would include drones manufactured before this rule went into place, meaning they lack the technical ability to meet the requirements.

However, operators who have older drones won't be totally ignored. The FAA says that it will specify 'certain geographic areas' in which these older drones will be allowed to fly. These geographic locations will be designated in order to 'accommodate' people who own drones that can't broadcast or transmit their identification information.

Two years after the final rule is implemented, the FAA says in its proposal that no drone could be manufactured with the intent of selling it for operation in the United States if it lacks the tech necessary to comply with the Remote ID rule. As well, the FAA says that as of the effective date of the final rule, it expects that all drones operating in the US will be compliant with the rule within three years. The public would be given a three-year deadline to get in compliance with the new law.

The ultimate goal of this proposed rule would be aiding law enforcement and federal agencies in identifying a rogue or otherwise suspicious drone. The law would help protect national airspace and prevent issues in which drones could be used to, for example, terrorize and shut down a major airport. This rule will follow the Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems rule the FAA published back in 2016.