We’ve talked a lot already about the pending September 16th, 2023, date in regard to remote ID. For many of us, the manufacturers of our current drone systems have us covered. Or so we hope.
Of course, most of the big names such as DJI, Autel, Yuneec, Skydio, and Parrot will make most of their aircraft remote ID complaint through firmware updates.
Companies such as DJI that have a long list of drone products however will most likely opt to only cover their latest systems. This will leave many behind and therefore require the use of an RID module.
Remote ID, or as the FAA likes to call it, a license plate for your drone. The funny thing about the license plate on your car and a really big difference, is that it doesn’t broadcast.
It doesn’t broadcast how fast it may be traveling down a road or where it may be parked, or where I’m standing with the keys to it. So, not a very accurate description at all.
After all, if you’re a Part 107 pilot, or even a Hobbyist pilot flying a drone over 250 grams, you have already had to register that aircraft with the FAA and have received a registration number.
You already know that the registration number of your registered aircraft is to be marked and visible on the aircraft itself.
Now that sounds more like a license plate for your drone similar to the one on your automobile, does it not? No, remote ID is definitely something different than that.
What you need to know about Remote ID
Remote ID is a form of tracking, not only the aircraft but you as well. There is a requirement that the location of the ground station also needs to be broadcast while in flight.
This is the first of what will likely be many steps to get to not only Network Remote ID but to bring about a control tracking system such as the planned UTM or Universal Traffic Management.
The end goal is to be able to monitor the sub 400ft airspace and be able to track any registered unmanned aircraft that may be operating in said airspace.
Unlike you, the normal everyday drone operator, this system is really designed more for making the drone delivery sector or Air Taxi systems possible that they hope to deploy one day.
There is this mistaken idea that one day in the very near future the skies will be filled with multiple unmanned systems all operating within this structure.
That day is not tomorrow, or even someday close to September 16th, 2023. That day is still years away.
Even though that is the case, you, me, and everyone within our industry and community will need to be in compliance with Remote ID on or before September 16th, 2023.
So that leaves us with the question: How do I get Remote ID for the drones I have now?
For most of us, that won’t be a big issue, as most of us already either have Remote ID within our current drone systems, or it will be added in the near future through a firmware update issued by the drone systems manufacturer.
After all, all drones manufactured after December 23, 2022, were required to have remote ID built in to them.
That, however, certainly wasn’t absolute, as you can still legally find and purchase drones that do not have Remote ID.
So, it is, of course, on you, the pilot, to ensure that you are within compliance. But what is it that we need to do to be in compliance?
How to Meet the Remote ID Requirements
There are three ways drone pilots can meet the identification requirements of the remote ID rule:
Operate a Standard Remote ID Drone that broadcasts identification and location information of the drone and control station.
A Standard Remote ID Drone is one that is produced with built-in remote ID broadcast capabilities.
Operate a drone with a remote ID broadcast module giving the drone’s identification, location, and take-off information.
A broadcast module is a device that can be attached to a drone, or a feature (such as a software upgrade) integrated with the drone.
Persons operating a drone with a remote ID broadcast module must be able to see their drone at all times during flight.
Operate without remote ID equipment at specific FAA-recognized identification areas (FRIAs) maintained by community-based organizations or educational institutions.
FRIAs are the only locations unmanned aircraft (drones and radio-controlled model airplanes) may operate without broadcasting remote ID message elements.
Now that we’ve looked over what’s expected let’s see how we can ensure that we have the information we need.
Located over at the FAA’s website is a list that has been compiled to help us out. This list is being updated regularly with more systems being added all the time, so check it often. It is the Declaration of Compliance list.
Find What’s in Compliance. Go and search for any drone you may own already or are planning on purchasing, to see if they are or are not already within compliance of the soon-to-be enacted Remote ID regulation.
Now if you don’t see the aircraft that you’re looking for, that most likely means that particular aircraft is not within compliance.
In this case, you would have to use the second method of compliance listed above by using a Remote ID module.
We’ve looked at several of these modules already, and all of them will be found on the FAA’s list. Here are a few of those review articles so you can choose the right one for you.
Now, if you are one of these RID module users, it is a piece of equipment that will need to be attached to the aircraft prior to taking flight.
It is also one of the only pieces of equipment that will also need to be registered similar to the aircraft’s registration, and yes, the five-dollar fee does apply.
We covered this process in the article below.
Flying Within A FRIA
As to the third means of compliance with the soon-to-be-mandated Remote ID regulation, you have the option to not have any Remote ID at all.
A FRIA or FAA-recognized identification area is a defined geographic area where drones can be flown without Remote ID equipment.
The drone and the pilot must be within the FRIA’s boundaries throughout the operation. In addition, the pilot of the drone must be able to see it at all times throughout the flight.
We also find this curious fact.
Note: If a drone is equipped with Standard Remote ID, it may not be disabled or shut off while flying in a FRIA.
When and if we ever get any FRIAs approved; as of this time, there are none.
If your drone is equipped with Remote ID, you will still need to have it broadcasting even within a FRIA area.
If your drone is not equipped with Remote ID, this would be the only area where it could be flown and be within compliance with the Remote ID regulation.
As of this time, there is not a single FRIA that is listed as being approved. With any luck, that’ll be changed here in the near future, hopefully prior to the September 16th, 2023, date Remote ID goes into effect.
Otherwise, without any approved FRIAs, there will be no way to comply with the FAA’s third option, and all and any aircraft will have to have RID equipped.
Getting Remote ID for Drones
Remote ID is not going to go away. It is the first step in a long road of steps to bring about a system of tracking and identifying unmanned systems and operators within the National Airspace System.
In the long-term view, such a system will be necessary for the safe operations of unmanned aircraft.
When, and it is a matter of when, Drone Delivery or even such things as Air Taxis come into existence, they will then be actually sharing our airspace with us.
Yes! Remote ID may be needed at that time. That time is not now. There are a lot of regulations already in place that make such ideas impossible.
Technological barriers also make it inconceivable at this time or at any time in the near future.
Although the FAA can make the regulation barriers weaken, they cannot overcome the limited amount of flight time that the current battery technology provides, and a major breakthrough would be needed to make such ideas a reality.
Nor have they yet overcome the lift-to-weight ratios to make these sorts of ideas economically feasible.
It will be what it is now until we break through those barriers. Can we call Remote ID premature?!
Fly Safe, Fly Always, Always Fly Safe!