FAA Announces New Drone Regs


Unmanned aerial vehicles operating in FAA airspace will soon be required to have Remote ID identification capabilities. Initially proposed one year ago, the Remote ID rule will go into effect 60 days after its publishing in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen in January. Remote ID transmits the location and identity of the drone as well as the location of the control station/operator.

According to the FAA, “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. These rules come at a time when drones represent the fastest-growing segment in the entire transportation sector—with currently over 1.7 million drone registrations and 203,000 FAA-certificated remote pilots.” The FAA says the new rule builds on previous steps to manage the proliferation of drones in the U.S.

“These final rules carefully address safety, security and privacy concerns while advancing opportunities for innovation and utilization of drone technology,” said DOT Secretary Elaine Chao. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson added that “the new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns. They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”

Hobbyists were concerned that model aircraft would be caught in the rules change. There was considerable pushback early this year when the FAA published the proposed rules and a significant number of public comments expressed worry that model flyers would be burdened. The FAA made small changes in the final document relating to approved flying locations and the procedure to get them approved, which apply to model aircraft flown within line of sight of the pilot.

“There are many provisions in the proposed Remote ID rule that EAA believed were unacceptable and we are pleased to see that many of our comments were incorporated in the final rule,” said Sean Elliott, EAA’s vice president of advocacy and safety. “As with any rule, it is not perfect, but EAA feels that the rules are far more workable as a result of the FAA’s consideration of the more than 50,000 comments made to the proposed rule. This includes our foundational principles that any Remote ID rule ensure that manned aircraft continue to have unfettered access to the airspace system, no new regulatory burdens would be placed on manned aircraft operations, and no new equipment would be mandated for manned aircraft as part of this rule.”

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KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. I slogged through 200, and skimmed the rest of the 470 pages of this document and found nothing that specifies how I am supposed to receive the RemoteID broadcasts. If “no new equipment would be mandated for manned aircraft as part of this rule” is true, how will I know? I’ve got a full-IFR GPS/ADSB panel with moving maps in the airplane, but only a COM radio in the helicopter. What’s going to show me the blip representing the Amazon drone I’m about to hit?

    • The FAA has no intent to have you see the RID models in your plane. It is so they can track the models. I don’t think there is a system in place yet to do that. There is lots more info at AMA Academy of Model Aeronautics

  2. Okay, we follow FAR’s for safety and to keep our tickets. How is the FAA going to enforce FAR’s for recreational drone/RC pilots. Their vehicles won’t have an N number and no transmitter. I assume that most drone/RC operations occurs in Class G airspace and therefore is none regulated. Instead of 600+ pages of rules, why not educate drone/R.C. operators about local Class E for airports and instrument approach procedures. I don’t believe that anyone wants to endanger the aviation community and a little education would be a lot more beneficial than a huge rule book that most likely will not be looked at by drone/RC operators.

  3. Thanks, Marc. I’d find helpful comments on how, within 60 days of publishing, owners of the hundreds of thousands of small drones (e.g., DJI) used for purely recreational purposes and some commercial applications, are to become compliant with the new equipment requirements…or are those drones just toast for a period of months or more as manufacturers put compliance gear on the market. Were this a manned aircraft regulation, there would be huge squawks about the (very short) 60 day compliance period. What of the cost of compliance to owners of something like a DJI Mavic? EAA’s reaction is interesting, and a part of the story, but lots of airplane pilots are also recreational drone fliers and covering the bigger aspect of the story would be of assistance to them.

    • This info is in error this rule will not take place for 30 months after the 60 day publishing. Lots more info at FAA and AMA. I doubt most recreational models flown line of sight will comply with RID as there are option that will not require it.

      • Thanks for the clarification. 2023 is a bit different from 60 days for compliance. I look forward to more information on the exemption possibility you mention and compliance options for retrofit. And here I thought I was done with ADS-B compliance….

  4. It’s one thing to be in a well-equipped modern aircraft. But I still don’t understand how all this can work for those of us with non engine-driven electrical systems in our Cubs, Luscombes, Taylorcrafts and Aeroncas. Since we cannot practically equip with cmpliant ADS-B “out” equipment under the rules as currently written, more specifically the “always on” mandate, and we often fly between 300′ and 1000′ above the surface depending on the Class of airspace, how do we and drones “see an avoid” each other safely? I have reached out to the FAA with respect to this and even had a petition to change the mandate with respect to non engine-driven aircraft placed on the Federal Register over a year ago. Silence. Nothing but silence.

  5. These rules will work for registered users like Amazon who will operate under well defined routes and central locations. Also certified operators using work related drones in mobile locations. It sounds like a good idea, but enforcing it among private amateurs who may or may not comply will be a challenge. Plus, it could be difficult, if not impossible to retrofit anything into existing drones to make them compliant. I agree that an aggressive education campaign, as opposed to another 600 pages of government gibberish would be a better approach.

  6. I think the general aviation community needs to drop their paranoia of drones and push back against overarching FAA regulations such as this. This regulation as written will prove to be extremely damaging to the traditional hobbyist model aircraft industry. This will have a very real impact on full-scale aviation because the increased cost and complexity for young teenagers to get started in model-aviation will only discourage participation and interest in aviation as a whole. This, at a time when the country is supposed to be promoting STEM education initiatives.

    I do not believe that the provision of allowing “non-id” aircraft to fly at “designated” fields goes far enough towards keeping radio controlled modeling viable. This new regulation will destroy “school yard” flying and slope soaring in areas where “designating” these types of flying sites will prove impractical. An in my neck of the woods, this type of RC flying is really the only thing available anywhere less than a 1.5 hour drive.

    Keep in mind that the FAA’s rule-making over the last 50 years has likely been a large detriment to innovation and participation in general aviation, and this same rule making mind-set is now going to have a similar impact on radio-controlled model aviation. If anyone doubts the decline of general aviation, all you need to do is look at overhead pictures of GA airports from the 70’s to see a vast number of planes at those airports that just don’t seem to exist today, such as this picture of now-nonexistent Meadowlark Airport in Huntington Beach, CA: http://www.airfields-freeman.com/CA/Meadowlark_CA_78.jpg

    Skylor Piper

  7. As a full scale pilot, you’re not supposed to fly at < 400agl in most locations. And the delivery people are not supposed to fly above it. You have a 100 ft margin supposedly. The Amazon drones soposedly would have see and avoid based on RFID broadcasts it receives.

  8. It’s completely ridiculous that a kid’s $30 drone needs a $300 transponder. Since this doesn’t report out to the web anymore (like the NPRM had it…)then this is strictly a law enforcement tool. Does anyone think a mischief-maker or a terrorist will have the transponder on board? There’s enough “old” (pre-rules) equipment out there to last 100 years. It’s silly.