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Drone Pilots Who Voluntarily Equip their Drones with Remote ID Could Receive Major Benefits

BY Isabella Lee
23 October 2019

Commercial and hobbyist drone pilots may find themselves equipping their drones with remote identification technology before the year is up. The Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) has proposed that a voluntary program be implemented until the FAA establishes a Final Rule for remote identification. This program would ask manufacturers or operators to equip their drones with remote identification technology in exchange for certain privileges.

DAC Remote ID

The FAA is scheduled to release its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on remote identification requirements for drones on December 20, but the agency doesn’t expect to come out with a Final Rule for up to two years after the publication of the NPRM. Given the fast pace of the drone industry and the growing number of registered drones, two years is too long to take action. The FAA tasked the DAC with developing recommendations for the short-term prior to a Final Rule for remote identification. The DAC made their recommendations public at their recent meeting in Washington, D.C. in a report available for download here.

Members of the DAC spent months developing these thoughtful, actionable and balanced recommendations to ensure drones remain a safe addition to the airspace as they grow more useful and more common.

– Brendan Schulman, Stakeholder Member of the DAC and DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs

Drone Advisory Committee Recommends Offering Incentives to those Who Equip their Drones with Remote ID Technology

In simplified terms, the DAC’s recommended solutions for remote identification prior to the establishment of a Final Rule are:

  • Implement a voluntary Remote ID equipage program
  • Follow the ASTM Remote ID standard as the basis for the program
  • Provide incentives to operators who voluntarily use UAS equipped with Remote ID

Under this program, drone pilots would be able to determine which manufacturers offer remote ID equipped drones by searching an online database maintained by the FAA. Qualifying drones must meet ASTM standards, which allows for various means to perform Remote ID including Bluetooth/Wi-Fi broadcast signals or connected networks.

To encourage participation in the voluntary program, the DAC suggested a number of incentives for operators who use drones equipped with Remote ID. These incentives create easier approval processes for pilots looking to fly outside the parameters established by Part 107, such as flying beyond line of sight, over people, and at night. The DAC also suggested monetary and employment incentives. We’ll review each of the proposed incentives below.

[Read our interview with Michael Chasen, the new Chair of the Drone Advisory Committee and CEO of PrecisionHawk]

Incentives for Drone Operators who Use Drones Equipped with Remote ID

If the DAC’s recommendations are implemented, drone operators who equip their drones with Remote ID can expect the following privileges:

Please note that these are only suggestions offered by the DAC and have not been officially implemented by the FAA. The FAA is currently drafting a proposed rule on Remote Identification for public comment and will take the DAC’s recommendations into consideration.

  • Contract Preference – Operators or systems that have Remote ID would get preferential treatment when under consideration by the FAA and other government agencies procuring contracts for UAS services or systems.
  • Faster Waiver Application Processing – Part 107 waiver applications from operators who have Remote ID would be prioritized and processed faster than those submitted by non-equipped operators.
  • Blanket Approval for Operations at Night – Night operations would be facilitated through a blanket waiver when the operator has Remote ID and operates consistent with rules that relate to night operations.
  • Greater Opportunity for Approval to Fly Over People or BVLOS – Remote ID would help mitigate the security concerns surrounding anonymous flying for operations over people or beyond visual line of sight waivers.
  • Improved Airspace Access – Remote ID equipped UAS operations that are compliant with FAA rules and regulations would be permitted in the outer ring (between the 10 and 30 NM ring) of a 14 CFR 91.141 VIP Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) and in other airspace areas that are restricted due to security concerns. Additionally, the FAA may raise the allowable altitude for automatic LAANC approvals.
  • Reimbursement for Part 107 Knowledge Exam – Operators who have taken the Part 107 knowledge exam would be eligible for some amount of reimbursement provided they utilize a UAS with Remote ID.
  • Waived Drone Registration Fees – The FAA would waive future drone registration fees for additional UAS or renewals after the initial application.
  • Discounted Events – Operators who utilize a UAS with Remote ID would be eligible for a discount on FAA UAS Symposium or other FAA events with associated costs.

Committee members who helped conceptualize these incentives included representatives from: Wing, PrecisionHawk, Rhode Island State Representative, TriVector Services & ASTM, Airmap, DJI, New York City Fire Department, Skyward, Intel, National League of Cities, Air Line Pilots Association, Alliance for Drone Innovation, Wiley Rein LLP, National Press Photographers Association, Boeing, Amazon, Fort Wayne Court System, Fort Wayne Police Department, A-Cam Aerials, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Flyte, and the Dallas Police Department.

Should the FAA decide to implement these incentives, we imagine a majority of commercial drone operators would be willing to comply in order to expand their operational capabilities.

Let us know if you would voluntarily equip your drone with Remote ID in exchange for any of the DAC’s proposed incentives in this thread on our community forum.

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