The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced final rules for unmanned aerial vehicles (UA), commonly known as drones. The new rules require remote identification (remote ID) of drones and allow operators of small drones to fly over people and at night under certain conditions. These rules come at a time when drones are the fastest growing segment in the entire transportation sector – with currently over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certified remote pilots.
Remote ID will help minimize the risks associated with advanced drone operations such as flights over people and at night. Both rules support technological and operational innovations and advances.
“These final rules carefully take into account security and privacy concerns while promoting opportunities for innovation and the use of drone technology,” said US Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
Remote ID (PDF) is an important step towards the complete integration of drones into the national airspace system. Remote ID identifies drones in flight and the location of their control stations, and provides vital information to our national security agencies and law enforcement partners, as well as to other officials tasked with ensuring public safety. Airspace awareness reduces the risk of drone interference with other aircraft and people and property on the ground.
Equipping drones with Remote ID technology builds on earlier steps by the FAA and the drone industry to securely integrate operations into the national airspace system. Part 107 of the federal aviation regulations currently prohibits the operation of drones over people and at night unless the operator receives a waiver from the FAA. The new FAA regulations combine to provide greater flexibility in performing certain small UAS without forcing a waiver.
“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety concerns,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “They bring us closer to the day when drone operations like delivering packages are becoming more routine.”
The Remote ID Rule (PDF) applies to all drone operators that require FAA registration. There are three ways to meet the operational requirements:
1. Operate a standard remote ID drone that sends identification and location information of the drone and the control station.
2. Operate a drone with a remote ID broadcast module (possibly a separate device connected to the drone) that broadcasts identification, location and launch information. or
3. Operate a drone without Remote ID, but in certain FAA-approved identification areas.
The rule “Operations over people and at night” (PDF) applies to operators of Part 107. The ability to fly over people and moving vehicles depends on the risk that a small-scale drone operation poses to people on the ground. Operations are permitted based on four categories, which are included in the summary (PDF) attached to the rule. In addition, this rule enables night-time operation under certain conditions.
The last rule requires that small drone operators have their remote pilot certificate and ID in their physical possession during operation and are ready to show them to authorities if necessary. This rule also extends the class of authorities that can request these forms from a remote pilot. The final rule replaces the requirement to conduct a recurring test every 24 calendar months with the requirement to conduct updated recurring training that includes working on specific subject areas at night.
Both rules take effect 60 days after publication in the federal register. The remote ID rule contains two compliance data. Drone manufacturers have 18 months to start producing drones with Remote ID. The operators have an additional year to use drones with remote ID.