DOT Finally, Belatedly Admits Drone Remote ID Needed on FAA Lagging in Issuing Drone Regulations

As usual, the hapless FAA is behind the power curve again.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced a proposed rule that would require Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), commonly called drones, to be identifiable remotely. Pilots, law enforcement and first responders have been calling for such “transponders” commonly used in aircraft for a long time.  See on:

“Remote ID technologies will enhance safety and security by allowing the FAA, law enforcement, and Federal security agencies to identify drones flying in their jurisdiction,” claimed U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

The FAA will seek input on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Remote Identification (Remote ID) of UAS that is now in  the Federal Register.  A 60-day comment period to receive public feedback and help the FAA develop a final rule to enhance safety in the skies over the U.S. is the next step.

“As a pilot, my eye is always on safety first,” claimed FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “Safety is a joint responsibility between government, pilots, the drone community, the general public and many others.”

Drones are a fast-growing segment of the entire transportation sector – nearly 1.5 million drones and 160,000 remote pilots are registered with the FAA. Equipping drones with remote identification technologies would finally help to safely integrate operations, including the small UAS rule, which covers drones weighing less than 55 pounds, and the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), which automates the application and approval process for most UAS operators to obtain airspace authorizations.

These efforts belatedly lay the foundation for more complex operations, such as those beyond visual line of sight at low altitudes, as the FAA and the drone industry move toward a traffic management system for UAS flights separate from, but complementary to, the air traffic management system. Critics are quick to point out that this is similar to the process that failed at Boeing and killed hundreds of people – letting the regulated dictate the regulations. The 737 Max, belatedly grounded, is still grounded as the promised software fix is still a promise. Boing is now halting production as the crisis grows. (see The Associated Press on FAA’s close ties to Boeing questioned after 2 deadly crashes, and At Boeing, C.E.O.’s Stumbles Deepen a Crisis – The New York Times)

 The proposed Remote ID rule would apply to all drones that are required to register with the FAA (recreational drones weighing under 0.55 pounds are not required to register), as well as to persons operating foreign civil UAS in the U.S.

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About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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