The new Broadcast Remote ID Rule is an important tool for the advancement of drone technology because in the near future there will be millions of drones flying above towns and cities, operating numerous tasks, which will require rules and regulations that ensure its safe operation.
It will not be long before we witness millions of drones carrying packages, conducting inspections of various places and work sites, as well as monitoring climate and live traffic conditions, etc. and it will be important to have regulations that not only ensure the safe operation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and unmanned aerial systems (UASs), but also that ensure the safe and secure operation of traditional manned aircraft. And essential components, such as ensuring safe operation, will be the ability to quickly and accurately identify each aircraft and drone sharing the airspace.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) understood this essential component to safety in aviation by recently publishing the final version of the new Remote ID rules and regulations, which requires that registered drones be capable of broadcasting important information during their operation. The rules will affect both manufacturers and operators, and will, intentionally, make the presence and operation of drones more clear for everyone.
The following is the summary and review of the new Remote ID rules from the FAA, which is published on their website and in the Federal Register.
What is the Remote ID?
Remote ID is different from the current drone registration and labeling requirements that require operators to register their drones and mark all aircraft with the registration number.
The Remote ID is the ability (soon the requirement) of drones, and other UASs (Unmanned Aircraft System) in flight, to broadcast (likely via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth) their flight and location information for identification from the ground.
The Remote ID broadcast will be receivable by most personal wireless devices within range of the drone. The broadcast will contain the UA ID (serial number of the device or session ID), flight information (e.g., latitude/longitude, altitude, and speed), location of the control station or takeoff location, time mark(s), and emergency status. The broadcast data will not include information on the pilot, or other registration data from the FAA database, in order to protect the identity and privacy of the operator. That information will be limited to the FAA and made available to authorized law enforcement agencies, when appropriate.
Why Do We Need a Remote ID?
Remote ID is an important tool that helps the FAA, law enforcement, federal agencies, and the public, identify critical information about the drone and its control station or take-off location.
Just as we require vehicles to be identifiable on the roads and waterways, so too must airborne vehicles have a way of transmitting their data reliably for identification and classification.
When Do the Remote ID Rules Take Effect?
The FAA published the final version of the new rules and regulations for Remote Identification in the Federal Register on January 15, 2021. These rules go into effect on April 21, 2021. The rules were originally slated to take effect on March 16, but corrections made to the Federal Register (on March 10) pushed the effective date back to April 21.
Manufacturers will have 18 months from the effective date to ensure that they are in compliance with the new regulations. Operators will receive an additional year (12 months) after that to meet the operational requirements and ensure that they are piloting a Standard ID Drone, one with a Remote ID broadcast module, or that they are piloting within an FRIA.
How Do the Remote ID Rules work?
The remote ID rule will require that all unmanned aircraft requiring registration with the FAA, be capable of broadcasting their information. Operators of UASs will have three (3) ways to meet the identification requirements, which are the following:.
(1) Standard Remote ID Drone Operation
The first is to operate a standard Remote ID drone. These are drones that have built-in remote broadcast ability, and broadcast directly from the drone/UAS. From takeoff to shut down, the drone broadcasts:
- UA ID
- Drone location and altitude
- Control station location and elevation
- Time mark
- Emergency status
(2) Drone with Remote ID Broadcast Module
The second is to operate a drone with a Remote ID broadcast module attached. The broadcast module is a separate device that may be attached onto a drone/UAS, that does not have Remote ID capability built in. This module will allow operators to retrofit drones and UASs without built-in capability to comply with the new Remote ID rules.
Operators will be required to enter the broadcast module serial number into the registration record of the aircraft. Operators will also be limited to Visual Line-of-Sight (VLOS) when flying with a Remote ID broadcast module. From takeoff to shut down, the module broadcasts:
- UA ID
- Drone location and altitude
- Takeoff location and elevation
- Time mark
(3) Operation within FAA-Recognized Identification Area (FRIA)
Finally, pilots may operate a drone/UAS not equipped with Remote ID within certain designated areas recognized by the FAA.
Community-based organizations, primary and secondary education institutions, and other organizations recognized by the FAA, may apply for the establishment of FRIAs. Drones operating within an FRIA are limited to Visual Line-of-Sight (VLOS) and must remain within the designated area.
Other specifics of the Remote ID rules include:
- UA Self Test (The drone cannot take off if Remote ID is not functioning).
- Remote ID cannot be disabled by the operator.
- Remote ID must be sent over unlicensed radio frequency (e.g., Wi-Fi or Bluetooth).
- Standard Remote ID and the Remote ID Broadcast Modules, must be designed by manufacturers to maximize the range to which the broadcasts can be received.
The new Remote ID rules and regulations are an important step forward for the realization of a drone and air-mobility enabled society. Increasing airspace awareness is critical to a future where manned and unmanned aircraft will share the skies. These rules will also help continue to build public trust in drones and other emerging air-mobility technology.
Most importantly, it shows the potential for regulatory agencies, specialists, and manufacturers to come together to come up with appropriate rules and regulations that ensure the safe and secure operation of drones, without unnecessarily stifling the growing industry. The FAA first published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Remote ID, on December 31, 2019. This allowed industry experts, professionals, and the public, to comment on the specifics of the rule(s) during the 60-day comment period. The FAA received over 53,000 comments, and took a number of those into consideration for the final rule. This is a prime example of the type of collaboration that will continue to bear fruit as the drone industry reaches new heights in the very near future.*
The new Broadcast Remote ID Rule is an important tool for the advancement of drone technology as drones will be flying everywhere, operating numerous tasks which will require rules and regulations that ensure its safe operation.
It will also be important to have regulations that not only ensure the safe operation of UAVs and UASs, but also that ensure the safe and secure operation of traditional manned aircraft. Since each aircraft and drone will be sharing the airspace, the ability to quickly and accurately identify each will be essential if they are to operate safely.