Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced a compliance extension until March 16, 2024, for individuals and organizations unable to obtain RID broadcast modules because of supply shortages and excessive costs. The Remote RID Rule states “The FAA will consider all circumstances, in particular, unanticipated issues with the available supply and cost of remote identification broadcast modules and unanticipated delay in the FAA's approval of FAA-recognized identification areas, when exercising its discretion in determining whether to take enforcement action.”
In short, the FAA is still expecting RID compliance for most and will be looking at enforcing penalties, fines, and or suspensions on a case-by-case basis, using their discretion.
In this article, we will discuss the concept of Remote ID, its necessity, and how to ensure compliance to avoid penalties or consequences.
What is the purpose of Remote ID?
Remote ID refers to the implementation of a "digital license plate" for drones. Drones must have either an internal signal that broadcasts their location, latitude, longitude, and heading of an attached broadcast module that transmits the same information. The FAA insists that almost all drones should send this data over wireless networks to a service provider’s database.
In the United States, Remote ID will be mandatory for commercial drone operators under 14 CFR Part 107 rules. Recreational operators, who fly under 49 USC 44809, will also need to comply. However, there are exceptions for recreational pilots, which we will explore later.
A brief history and overview of drone regulations.
Since 2015, the FAA has been working on regulations to balance the growth of the drone industry with safety and security concerns in National Airspace System (NAS). These regulations initially focused on defining where drones could and couldn't fly. In August 2016, Part 107 was established to help more remote pilots fly commercially. However, the challenge of monitoring the increasing number of drones in the sky remained unresolved until the FAA released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Remote ID in late 2019, after extensive discussions between industry stakeholders and Congress.
Upon release, the general public had the opportunity to review all several hundred pages of the NPRM and provide comments before the final rule was established.
Over 52,000 comments from the public were submitted, with many expressing concerns about the potential for persons to track the location of a remote pilot while operating a drone. Nevertheless, the FAA presented a similar final ruling setting the expectation for drone manufacturers to start complying by September 2022.
Thus Remote ID came to fruition.
As unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) sales continue to grow year over year, it is imperative to have a system in place to ensure transparency and accountability. When Remote ID is implemented correctly, it will not only help safely integrate drones into NAS, alongside helicopters and airplanes, but also enable enterprises and commercial remote pilots to carry out complex operations such as flights beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), and over people.
If you’ve ever attempted to secure a waiver for a complex operation, especially BVLOS, you’ll notice that it is a lengthy and time-consuming process. Besides filling out pages of information and answering questions in as detailed a manner as possible, approval of your waiver can take weeks and even months. Remote ID was drafted to help remote pilots avoid this extensive process going forward.
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How do I comply with Remote ID?
Now that we’ve discussed what Remote ID is, how it came into existence, and why the industry needs it, we’ll look at three ways you can remain compliant.
The easiest and most effective way is to own a Standard Remote ID drone that transmits identification and location details of the drone and its remote. This type of drone is manufactured with built-in capabilities to transmit information as per RID rule requirements.
The good news is that most of the newer DJI and Autel models already have RID built in as manufacturers were required to comply by September 22, 2022. This date was pushed back to December, but, even so, most contemporary drones can transmit Remote ID without an external module.
If you’ve ever seen a ‘Remote ID Error’ notification on your app’s screen, it means your drone has built-in Remote ID capabilities. Below is an abridged list of the models the FAA has deemed Remote ID-ready.
Ascent AeroSystems Spirit
Autel EVO Max Series
Autel EVO II V3
Autel Dragonfish Lite/Pro/Standard
DJI M30T Dock
DJI M350 RTK
DJI Mavic 3 Series
DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise Series
Inspired Flight IF1200A
Inspired Flight IF800 Tomcat
Parrot ANAFI Ai
Parrot ANAFI USA
Don’t see yours listed or wondering if the drones you operate are compliant, the FAA has provided an aircraft and serial number lookup here. You'll enter your specific drone model's serial number into the same place on the FAA's DroneZone where you registered the same drone.
If Remote ID isn’t built-in to your drone already, you can attach a broadcast module. A broadcast module is a device that transmits identification and location information about the drone, including its take-off location, in accordance with the requirements of the Remote ID rule. This type of module is physically attached to a drone and is sold separately with a separate serial number that must be entered with your drone's registration info. The cost of modules varies. Pilots operating a drone with a Remote ID broadcast module must maintain visual line of sight with their drone at all times during flight.
You don’t have to comply with Remote ID. Anyone is allowed to operate in FAA-recognized identification areas (FRIAs) supported by community-based organizations (CBOs) or educational institutions. FRIAs are the only authorized locations where UAS (drones and radio-controlled airplanes) are allowed to operate without transmitting Remote ID message elements. These areas must be approved by the FAA.
There’s one more caveat that the FAA doesn’t make obvious on their website but is worth pointing out. If you are flying recreationally and you don’t want to be limited to a FRIA, a sub-250g drone can be flown anywhere other drones are allowed. No registration means no Remote ID.
Adding to the nuance, if you’re flying a DJI Mini 3, weighing in at only 249 grams, and add a simple prop guard or other implement to the airframe, this addition might increase the weight of the aircraft past the FAA’s set standards, requiring you to take steps to become RID compliant.
We understand it’s hard to keep up with the ever-changing intricacies facing the drone industry and it’s implications for your organization's drone program. That’s why we exist. Our professionals are not only educated in drone and robotics technology but experts with thousands of hours in field experience, ready to answer your questions about compliance, providing the right solutions the first time.
If you're looking for broadcast modules, have questions about compliance, or are in need of cutting-edge technology solutions for your business, we've got you covered. Make sure to visit our online store and, as always, reach out to us directly with any questions. We're here when you need us.