FAA Issues Final Rule on Remote Drone Identification

Transportation Update

Date: January 19, 2021

On January 15, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a new rule broadly requiring remote identification (remote ID) for unmanned aircraft (drones). Remote ID refers to a drone’s capability to provide identification, location and performance information to people on the ground and other airspace users, which is critical to public safety, security and expanding permissible drone operations. The rule generally prohibits drone users from operating drones without remote ID after September 16, 2023. It also generally prohibits drone manufacturers from producing drones that do not comply with rule’s remote ID design and production requirements after September 16, 2022.

Requirements for Users

Drone users will have three ways to comply with the remote ID requirements:

  • Operate a standard remote ID drone. A drone with standard remote ID is manufactured with the capability to broadcast a remote ID message, which contains identification, location and performance information, from takeoff to shutdown.
  • Operate a drone equipped with a remote ID broadcast module. A drone that has been retrofitted with a remote ID broadcast module, which broadcasts a remote ID message from takeoff to shutdown, may be operated only within its pilot’s visual line of sight.
  • Operate a drone without remote ID in FAA-recognized identification areas. Drones that do not have remote ID capability may be operated only within the visual line of sight in an FAA-recognized identification area (FRIA), which is a geographic area the FAA has designated for drone operations without remote ID. The FAA will begin accepting applications to establish FRIAs in approximately 20 months. Persons eligible to request establishment of a FRIA include community-based organizations recognized by the FAA and educational institutions, including primary and secondary educational institutions, trade schools, colleges and universities. A FRIA authorization will be valid for 48 months, subject to renewal by an application submitted 120 days before authorization expires.

Limited exceptions apply, including for drones weighing 0.55 pounds or less.

These requirements become effective September 16, 2023.

Requirements for Manufacturers

The rule imposes design and production requirements for all drones produced after September 16, 2022. It also sets requirements for remote ID broadcast modules that can be used to retrofit drones with remote ID capability.

Manufacturers of these items must:

  • show that they comply with an FAA-accepted means of compliance, which is a method for complying with the rule’s remote ID performance requirements;
  • issue a serial number for each item;
  • label each item to indicate that it is remote ID compliant; and
  • submit a declaration of compliance, which states that each item complies with the remote ID requirements, to the FAA for acceptance.

Limited exceptions apply for home-built drones and drones weighting 0.55 pounds or less.

Other Provisions
  • Prohibition against ASD-B Out and transponders. The rule prohibits, with limited exceptions, operating drones with ADS-B Out in transmit mode or with a transponder on.
  • Deviation authority. The rule allows the FAA to authorize persons to operate drones without remote ID if the FAA finds that there is a need and either the deviation from the remote ID operating requirements would not adversely affect safety or appropriate mitigations are in place to provide a level of safety at least equal to that provided by the rule.
  • Foreign-registered drones operated in the United States. Persons operating a foreign-registered civil drone with remote ID in U.S. airspace must, prior to the operation, submit a notice of identification to the FAA that includes the operator’s name and address; the drone’s make, model and country of registration; and other data. The notice enables the FAA and law enforcement to correlate the drone’s remote ID broadcast with a person responsible for operating the drone.

These provisions are effective March 16.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information, please contact:

Brent Connor
202.263.4188
Brent.Connor@ThompsonHine.com

Jason D. Tutrone
202.263.4143
Jason.Tutrone@ThompsonHine.com

Kerem Bilge*
202.263.4104
Kerem.Bilge@ThompsonHine.com

*Not admitted in the District of Columbia; practice is supervised by principals of the firm.

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