On Monday, December 28, 2020 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) submitted two final rules for publication in the Federal Register The new rules will require Remote Identification (Remote ID) of drones and allow operators of small drones to fly over people and at night under certain conditions. Both the Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft and Operation of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Over People rules will primarily take effect 60 days after publication, while implementation periods for specific elements within each rule vary. The publication of this regulatory package marks a major milestone for this industry.
The Remote ID rule (PDF) applies to all operators of drones that require FAA registration. There are three ways to comply with the operational requirements:
- Operate a standard Remote ID drone that broadcasts identification and location information of the drone and control station;
- Operate a drone with a Remote ID broadcast module (may be a separate device attached to the drone), which broadcasts identification, location, and take-off information; or
- Operate a drone without Remote ID but at specific FAA-recognized identification areas.
The Operations Over People and at Night rule (PDF) applies to Part 107 operators. The ability to fly over people and moving vehicles varies depending on the level of risk a small drone operation presents to people on the ground. Operations are permitted based on four categories, which can be found in the executive summary (PDF) accompanying the rule. Additionally, this rule allows for operations at night under certain conditions.
The final rule requires that small drone operators have their remote pilot certificate and identification in their physical possession when operating, ready to present to authorities if needed. This rule also expands the class of authorities who may request these forms from a remote pilot. The final rule replaces the requirement to complete a recurrent test every 24 calendar months with the requirement to complete updated recurrent training that includes operating at night in identified subject areas.
Both rules will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Remote ID rule includes two compliance dates. Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID, with operators having an additional year to start using drones with Remote ID.