What is Remote ID?
The new FAA Remote ID rule goes into effect Wednesday, April 21. Let’s explore what that means for you as a pilot. This story will be of use to all pilots of drones weighing 250 grams or more, and there’s some DJI-specific news for those flying DJI products.
Regulators are concerned with keeping the airspace (and the ground) safe for everyone. That’s why the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Transport Canada – and the airspace regulators in most other countries around the world – have instituted rules for drones in recent years.
A brief history of Remote ID
It’s important to have rules in place that minimize the chance of a conflict between manned and unmanned aircraft, or between unmanned aircraft and people and property on the ground. Safety is also the impetus behind the new Rule on Remote ID, which goes into effect today (April 21).
What do the Remote ID rules say?
Well, sortof goes into effect. Because nothing is going to change for pilots, at least not yet. The best way to think of Remote ID – and the analogy most commonly used – is that it’s like a digital license plate. It’s a transmission from drones weighing 250 grams or more that contains its position in space and the unique FAA registration number.
It will also provide the location of the ground station or takeoff location. This information can be received by others, providing they have an app that can pick it up. The transmission does not contain the name of the owner of the drone (though certain parties, like law enforcement and the FAA, will be able to access that information if necessary). We’ll let the FAA explain why it’s needed:. Remote ID helps the FAA, law enforcement, and other federal agencies find the control station when a drone appears to be flying in an unsafe manner or where it is not allowed to fly.
Remote ID also lays the foundation of the safety and security groundwork needed for more complex drone operations.
- We’re not here to debate whether Remote ID is a good or bad thing (and the rule is being challenged in court). We can certainly tell you that it’s controversial, and that a lot of people wanted to weigh in when the FAA opened the door for public commenting.
- When the FAA published its Notice on Proposed Rulemaking back in December of 2019, it also opened a 60-day window for input. Some 53,000 submissions from drone pilots – likely including some of those reading this story. The FAA reviewed those comments and considered the feedback when drafting the rule, which was published in the Federal Register on January 15, 2021.
- The effective date was originally going to be in March, but got bumped due to some corrections made to the initial rule. Not much, at least not right now. But down the road, you’ll either have to have a drone with built-in capabilities to transmit its Remote ID – or an external module attached to the drone that does the same thing.
Location, altitude, velocity of the drone
There’s but one exception: A drone not equipped to transmit Remote ID can still be flown, but only within a special box designated by the FAA as an FAA-Recognized Identification Area, or FRIA.
The FAA has an excellent graphic on its Remote ID FAQ page, which we’re borrowing for use below:.
- If you own a DJI product, particularly a newer drone, you may have noticed a sub-menu within the DJI FLY app.
- In that section, there’s an option to fill in a couple of fields for “Remote Identification.” And while that’s kind of confusing, rest assured this is not for Remote ID. (Whatever you fill in those boxes can be picked up by DJI’s Aeroscope, a pretty impressive piece of drone detection technology.).
Operate in a FRIA without Remote ID equipment
The piece Brendan wrote is really worth reading.
But we know some of you won’t get there, so we’re going to pull a relevant quote or two.
- The first, which will absolutely interest many of you, touches on DJI’s plans when it comes to the new rule.
- All drones that are flown outdoors, unless exempt, must perform Remote ID by…October 2023, and DJI expects many of our most commonly used drones to be able to comply through a simple and free software update.
- It’s too early to say exactly which existing DJI drones will be able to be updated this way, however, because the technical standards for Remote ID haven’t been finalized and approved by the FAA.
Flying indoors (no GPS signal)
Does DJI’s plans to make drones compliant via firmware mean the data will somehow be embedded in the transmission between your controller and drone?
- Here’s what he told us:. Remote ID will be accomplished via a radio broadcast using the on-board Wi-Fi antenna hardware.
- We actually did a demo of this in Montreal about 18 months ago, using the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) International standard.
- That standard needs to be finalized by ASTM, and then accepted by the FAA as a means of compliance.
Which models of DJI drones will be able to do this depends on the final standard, but our hope is that many popular models can be upgraded with a free software update, prior to the compliance deadline in 2023. Not everyone has the money – or the need – to upgrade every time a new drone comes out. Here, Brendan’s blog indicates that even products that are long in the tooth will still likely be able to comply.
How is Remote ID going to work?
(Don’t be surprised if DJI produces a module for this down the road that can be attached to any existing drone – including those produced by other manufacturers).
- Here’s what he wrote:. Our goal will remain to make Remote ID as easy to comply with as possible. DJI will likely roll out updates across our product lines in phases, taking into account their popularity and where they are in their lifecycle as the FAA deadline approaches in 2023. Since the FAA will allow drone pilots to satisfy Remote ID requirements with a separate add-on module, we anticipate every DJI drone – even the oldest ones, long out of production – will have a pathway to compliance for anyone still operating them.
- FTC: DroneDJ is reader supported, we may earn income on affiliate links. It’s official, small unmanned aerial vehicles, sUAV, what we call drones, require remote identification before they can fly. The Final Rule was submitted to the Federal Registrar for publication on December 28th, 2020, was finalized and published in early 2021, and the official effective date for Remote ID is April 21, 2021.
What does this mean for you?
With the new Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft (Part 89) rules published, manufacturers will have 18 months to ensure that all new machines are equipped, and pilots will have 30 months to retrofit any drones they wish to continue to operate. That’s right, practically all of the drones you have today will never legally fly again after September 16, 2023, at least not without some modifications.
|Who can request to establish a FRIA?||Only FAA-recognized Community-Based Organizations (CBOs)||CBOs, educational institutions|
|When can someone apply for a FRIA?||12-month period beginning on rule effective date||No deadline to apply; applications starting 20 months after rule publication date (January 15, 2021)|
|Where can a FRIA be established?||Locations based on 4 criteria in NPRM 89.215||Updated criteria (similar to proposed criteria) in 89.215|
Option 2: Remote ID Broadcast Module
Don’t panic, there are things you can do to keep flying. Let’s explore the important bits of the FAA’s Remote ID rules for pilots in the Unites States.
Correction: The FAA backdated the effective start date for the Remote ID rule, we had previously published that you had until October 2023 to retrofit or replace your drone fleet, you only have until September 2023.
- We will have to cover all of the bits and pieces of this rule in more detail in the future, but for now, here are the key highlights:.
- Remote ID will be a local broadcast over Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, the need for a network/internet transmission has been removed! There are three ways to comply: Standard Remote ID in the aircraft, a Remote ID Broadcast Module, or operations within a FAA pre-approved flight area.
What if you’re still flying an original Phantom?
As we mentioned in the proposed rule in early 2020, ADS-B is prohibited as a means to meet Remote ID requirements. Your drone may continue to receive ADS-B transmissions, like your DJI drones now do, but you’ll need to apply for special authorization to put an ADS-B transmitter or ATC transponder on your drone.
Your aircraft’s serial number or session ID will be transmitted, as with latitude, longitude, altitude, and velocity. Your ground station (remote control) latitude, longitude, and altitude are included as well.
Finally, the broadcast includes an Emergency Status and Time Mark. The information in the broadcast will be available to personal wireless devices in range, however, access to the Serial Number or Session ID database is limited to the FAA, and will only be made available to authorized law enforcement and national security personnel upon request. Bottom line, your personal information is protected, but your location while flying is public.
Night flight, operation over people and cars, changes to Part 107 license
Drones produced in the future are expected to use the Standard Remote ID method above, but for your older, or otherwise non-compliant drones, you may use a third-party Remote ID Broadcast Module affixed to your drone.
You will need to add the serial number of the Remote ID Module in the record of your drone’s registration with the FAA.
- (We’re unsure if you can use the same module on multiple drones at this time.). The Broadcast Module will transmit its serial number, latitude, longitude, altitude, and velocity, plus the latitude, longitude, and altitude of the take-off location, and a time mark.
- Drones equipped with Broadcast Modules are not eligible for operations beyond visual line of site.
- The Remote ID Broadcast Module is a decent solution for drones that are not equipped with GPS.
- Beginning 18 months after this new rule goes into effect, organizations are eligible to apply for FRIA compliance.
- These are geographic areas where drones not equipped with remote ID can fly.
Eligible organizations include your local hobby flight group, and schools.
- Drones in these areas are not eligible for operations beyond visual line of site.
- We’re unsure if these are public use flight areas, or if you must be registered and authorized with the local organization in order to fly in that zone.
- In addition to the Remote ID rules above, the FAA is also publishing new rules for flights at night, flight over top of people and/or cars, and changes to the Part 107 licensing requirements.
- Learn more about the new FAA Part 107 rules here.
Current Part 107 certified pilots may start taking this new training after April 6, 2021.
What information will be broadcast through Remote ID?
Stay tuned for more information on all of the above. Timeline of updates. January 12, 2021: The folks at InterDrone have a lengthy video discussion on this topic. March 2021: The rule has been finalized, effective date is April 21, 2021. April 21, 2021: Remote ID is live! New drones released after today will begin to have built-in Remote ID, all drones built after September 2022 must have Remote ID built in, and you have until September 2023 to upgrade or replace your existing fleet.
September 7, 2021. Finally, the FAA has published the rules on the soon-to-be-implemented Remote ID system for drones. This is easily one of the most controversial topics within the drone community for the past year.