Update: January 20, 2021
On February 26th the FAA published an addendum to the remote ID rule in the Federal Register.
On January 20, 2021, the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff issued a memorandum titled, ‘‘Regulatory Freeze Pending Review.’’ The memorandum requested that the heads of executive departments and agencies (agencies) take steps to ensure that the President’s appointees or designees have the opportunity to review any new or pending rules.
‘‘March 1, 2021’’ is corrected to read ‘‘March 16, 2021’’ amending §§ 107.61, 107.63, 107.65, 107.73, and 107.74.
For those who were planning on taking the Part 107 recurrent test online through the FAA’s new training portal, this will mean at least a 2 week delay.
Update: January 15, 2021
The FAA just published the remote ID rule, the rule pertaining to flights over people and nighttime operations on January 15, 2021. This establishes the timeline for implementation of the various stages of the rule. Based on on the information we have:
March 2, 2021: The FAA website for those taking the recurrent exam and/or nighttime operations should go live.
March 17, 2021: The Remote ID rule goes live. Persons who have successfully passed the recurrent exam on the new website should be able to begin nighttime operations in accordance with the rule. This also establishes the dates for other part of the rule. 18 months from March 17th drone manufacturers must conforming production of standard remote ID aircraft.
Brief explanation of Remote ID:
The FAA has released a new rule that would require unmanned aircraft weighing over 250g (.55 lbs or 8.8 oz) to broadcast a “remote identification” or “electronic license plate”. Remote ID is the ability of a drone in flight to provide identification and location information that can be received by other parties. The information would be broadcast using unlicensed frequencies, i.e. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The information is publicly available to anyone using a device such as a smart phone or tablet running an app.
You can download the full text of the Remote ID rule and the updated sections of nighttime operations and flight over people here:
Te new rule goes into effect 60 days from the date it is published in the Federal Register. This is expected to occur near the end of January 2021. The new rule lays out a timeline for implementation of milestones to full implementation.
- 45 days from the date the rule is published, the FAA will open up the online training and testing for the Part 107 recurrent exam (which includes provisions for nighttime operations)
- 2 months from the date the rule is published it goes into effect
- 2 months from the date the rule is published Part 107 pilots who have completed the online training and recurrent exam may begin nighttime operations in accordance with the new rule
- 18 months from date of publication, unmanned aircraft may not be produced for operation in US Airspace unless they meet the remote ID standard,
- 18 months from date of publication, CBO’s and educational institutions may begin applying for FRIA status
- 30 months after rule is in effect, all remote pilots must comply with remote ID by meeting the requirements of 1 or the 3 categories (see below)
The new rule creates 3 categories of compliance for unmanned aircraft. This includes popular consumer drones, commercial grade UAS, FPV racing drones, remote controlled airplanes and helicopters.
- Standard Remote ID (aircraft with broadcast capabilities built-in)
- Retrofit drones with an installed Remote ID Module (may not be operated beyond visual line of sight)
- FAA Recognized Identification Area (FRIA)
A FRIA is a location approved by the FAA for operation of UAS that are not equipped with a standard ID or a broadcast module. This would be an area overseen by a community based organization like a model airplane club for example. Under the new rule, educational institutions may also apply for FRIA status.
FAQ about Remote ID:
Q: The new remote ID rule changes the renewal process for part 107 pilots which eliminates the in-person testing for the recurrent exam. My certificate is set to expire in March of 2021. Should I wait?
A: It really depends on when your Part 107 is set to expire. The deciding factor is the timeline. The timing of all of these events is based upon the date the rule is published, which is expected to occur near the end of January 2021. That puts the effective date of the new rule sometime around the end of March 2021.
The online portal should be available 45 days from the date the rule is published. This would allow a 15 day window for part 107 pilots to take the online training and test before the new rule goes into effect 60 days from the date it is published in the Federal register.
This is only an estimate. It will depend on the date the rule gets published and if the FAA launches the new online test site on schedule. If your certificate expires before the online recurrent process is available, you would have to discontinue flying until you complete it. If you want to be sure that your certificate doesn’t lapse you would have to take the written exam. If you are willing to wait it out to see what happens you know what to expect now. It’s a tough call if your certificate is set to expire around the same time the new process would go into effect. Additionally, if you want to operate at night under the new rule, you’ll still have to take the online training once it becomes available.
Here is the verbiage from the FAA’s website:
Remote Pilot Knowledge Test
The final rule updates the initial Remote Pilot knowledge test to include an operation at night knowledge area. Additionally, the final rule replaces the requirement to complete an in-person recurrent test every 24 calendar months. The updated requirement is for remote pilots to complete online recurrent training which will include an “operation at night” knowledge area. The online recurrent training will be offered free of charge to remote pilots.
“Timing/termination of waivers. The new testing and training will be available 45 days after the final rules are published in the Federal Register, and the new rule will be effective and thus enable nighttime operations 60 days after Federal Register publication. Operators currently using Part 107 waivers for nighttime operations will be given a 60-day grace period after that to continue operating under the waiver instead of meeting the new requirements. Accordingly, all pre-existing waivers of Section 107.29 of the FAA’s rules will terminate 120 days after Federal Register publication.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who sells the remote ID module? Does it exist yet?
A: It is not commercially available yet (as of January 2021). The FAA just released the standards and requirements on December 28, 2020. It will take manufacturers time to develop, manufacture and gain FAA approval before they can sell them. Drone pilots have 30 months from the date the rule goes into effect to comply.
Q; Are there any local airfields that qualify as FRIA?
A: Too soon to know. It is likely that existing AMA clubs will apply for FRIA status. Under the new rule educational institutions may also apply and qualify.
Q: Are DIY drones allowed to fly outside FRIAs (with a transponder) and do they need to be certified?
A: Yes, if they are over 250g you will need to apply a serial number using a standardized system. The FAA includes a website to explain the standard and how to obtain a serial number that meets the standard, then you will have to register the drone with that serial number and apply the transponder.
Q: Does the Remote ID Module replace the FAA registration number or do we still need the number visible on the drone?
A: You still need to register any drone weighing over 250g and display the registration number of the outside of the drone. The Remote ID module requirement is tied to registration for drone that are not equipped with Standard ID capabilities. If the drone needs to be registered it must have the module. The module will have its own unique identifier which is in tern tied to our drones serial number.
Have more questions?