Remote ID is another big step forward in the safety and integration of UAS(Unmanned Aircraft Systems) into the National Airspace. We're just scratching the surface of drone development and application, and while the technology and community of enthusiasts grows exponentially, lagging behind in the race are the regulations to maintain public safety and the responsibility that every Remote Pilot must assume. The FAA, at the time of this article, reports 863,728 registered drones in the U.S., with over 500,000 of them as Recreational Pilots. As a way to mitigate the multitude of hazards that this swarm of drones potentially poses to people on the ground, and most importantly to manned aircraft sharing the sky, the implementation of Remote ID will provide a better system for communication and air traffic awareness of UAS operation within the National Airspace.
On September 16th 2023, the new FAA law is in effect, stating that remotely operated UAS must broadcast Remote ID during operation. This will require that your drone publicly shares it's location, movements and ID number. Before you jump to any conclusions about the government, tech companies, or anyone being able to collect information about you, know that there are similar systems already in place to track the movements of all manned aircraft, and it's not as intrusive as it may seem. Be how you may about laws... Traffic regulations have proved to create better safety for our road travel, and is essential to maintaining air traffic safety and navigational efficiency. Remote ID will now act as a 'digital license plate' on display while a drone is in operation, and will allow anyone with a 'drone tracking app' to see the location and movement of any UAS broadcasting a Remote ID. Keep in mind that this is typically broadcast via Bluetooth or WiFi from your drone, which will only offer a fairly limited signal range for tracking.
Yes, this is making your drone location and movements available to anyone with a smartphone... however, given the limited broadcasting range, someone would have to be in close proximity to be able to pick up the signal, on top of that have a drone tracking app installed on their phone. So the Average Joe just ain't gonna know, in case you're worried about your location being 'put on blast'. The likelihood of being tracked or targeted for ill intent is next to none. But the chance for under-experienced remote pilots to make serious mistakes is a real ordeal, and there is a need to bolster the recourse action for pilot liability. Think about it... you want to be able to report the license plate of the car that crashed through your neighborhood busting up personal property right?.. If a small aircraft crashes into your home, or much worse causes an accident with a manned aircraft, you will want to know who was involved and who is responsible.
With the growing number of people buying drones for hobby or recreational flying, there is also an increasing number of misinformed and uneducated drone users taking to the sky, no holds barred. Most are not prepared for the personal liability that comes with their actions while operating UAS, and as there is no straight forward way to monitor anyone's intentions while flying, we have to move towards a better system of awareness for the sake of everyone. There is a common concern for overall privacy among UAS pilots when it comes to live broadcasting their drones location, and while we are patient as this system improves, it's important to understand all of the laws that surround the operation of UAS, along with the rules that protect drone pilots and define the scope of public air usage.
**Stay tuned for our upcoming article about public airspace, and some of the misconceptions on operating drones within certain areas.**
In addition to the requirement of registering your drone before you can fly it, you will now have to be sure that your drone is equipped with, and broadcasting a Remote ID serial number. All drones developed after September 2022 were required to be equipped with a Standard Remote ID from the manufacturer. Drones made prior to that time may be able to utilize an external Remote ID Broadcast Module for transmitting the signal. Otherwise, any UAS without Remote ID capabilities will be limited to operations within FRIA (FAA-Recognized Identification Area) locations identified on the FAA's website.
If you are flying for purely recreational, and your UAS with any attachments is under 0.55 lbs (250 grams), you have the only exemption from this requirement. Any drone weighing more than 0.55 lbs will need to broadcast a Remote ID while in use. All commercial drones operating under 14 CFR Part 107 must have Remote ID, even if it is under 0.55 lbs.
This is a bummer for anyone with an older model drone. As the due date for Remote ID is upon us, there are not a lot of available options for external modules as of now, and some of the older drones might just be rendered obsolete. From a commercial standpoint, this is detrimental blow if you're not able to comply with the Remote ID requirement. A large community of budding hobbyist are about to permanently shelf their drone kit... Wait, don't throw out your outdated drone just yet!.. There are still ways to fly your UAS in compliance with this new law. As we mentioned above, there are FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIAs) that will allow UAS operation without the use of Remote ID. These are geographical areas such as community-based aviation clubs and academic institutions that have received airspace approval from the FAA.
Ok, I'll admit, flying in a geographical cage doesn't sound like a very interesting way to enjoy a drone for hobby. Most likely, FRIA locations will be used for UAS development testing and flying nostalgic RC aircrafts. But don't lose hope in your UAS hobby, the near future most certainly holds an option to bring your drone into compliance. As tech companies pump out solutions for Remote ID add-ons, there are bound to be solid 'aftermarket' options for all types of UAS.
The DC FRZ (Washington DC No Fly Zone) is a 15 mile circular radius zone around our nations capital that strictly prohibits the operation of UAS without the proper FAA approval. It is part of the greater, 30-mile radius DC SFRA that governs all aircraft in flight around D.C. As the FAA does not allow any recreational UAS operation in this area, there are currently no FRIA locations within the DC FRZ. All authorized flights in this area are limited to operation under a 14 CFR Part 107 license and have a scrupulous approval process, which means Remote ID compliance is especially required for all UAS requesting a flight waiver.
I'm not sure that we will ever see much in the way of recreational UAS areas in the DC FRZ. The most obvious reason being the amount of sensitive facilities and locations within the zone, but the amount of air traffic alone in this area is enough to constitute the UAS restrictions. For those of us operating commercially around the DC FRZ, we have to stay diligent with FAA regulations, and it is most importantly our duty to inform everyone of the rules and regulations surrounding UAS operations.
It is just one of our commitments here at Edwin Photography to educate ourselves in every way possible, and share our knowledge with everyone we can. Our hope is that anybody can take the information we presented here, use it to better their own situation, and pass on what they learned with the next person. With a little effort toward creating a common drone knowledge among people, we can ensure a bright future for UAS development and enjoyment!
If you have any questions about this article, or if there is anything you need to know about UAS operations in the U.S. National Airspace, feel free to contact Edwin Photography! If you're looking for a UAS solution in the Washington D.C. Area, look no further!... Call 540-209-4432, or contact Sam@EdwinPhotography.com to discuss the details.
Published on September 14th, 2023 • 0 Comments