For the third time this year, the widely-anticipated FAA notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on drone remote identification (remote ID) has been delayed. The NPRM is now expected to be released in late December. These delays have prompted criticism from industry and Congress.
“Remote ID is necessary for enabling advanced and expanded operations such as flights over people and beyond line of sight, which will provide significant benefits throughout our economy and society,” said Brian Wynne, CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Wynne said the technology “is critical for ensuring airspace safety by helping law enforcement identify and distinguish authorized UAS from those that may pose a security threat.”
Congress also has expressed its frustration. In July, members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, saying, “We believe failure to complete this effort poses serious risks to the National Airspace System, its users, and the nation’s most critical and sensitive facilities and assets. Delays also stifle innovation, preventing the U.S. commercial UAS industry from reaching its full potential."
The FAA initiated its remote ID rulemaking process in February 2018. Legislation enacted in 2016 (the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act) required the FAA to issue regulations or guidance on remote ID by July 2018. Committee members said, “Our concerns are exacerbated by that fact that once a final rule is issued, the date by which UAS operators must comply with remote identification requirements may be months, or even years, after issuance.”
DJI, the world’s largest maker of recreational drones, unveiled remote ID technology in 2017 called AeroScope, which remotely identifies and tracks airborne drones by locally broadcasting their location, speed, heading, and serial number data to receivers that can be used by law enforcement. DJI says its technology abrogates the need to equip drones with special equipment that adds cost and weight and shortens aircraft battery life. ASTM Committee F38 on unmanned aircraft systems is developing remote ID standards, which are due to be published soon.