Remote ID, the concept that each drone should have its own 'digital license plate,' has been delayed yet again. The requirement to comply, slated to take effect at 12:01 a.m. on September 16th, 2023, has been pushed back six months to March 16, 2024. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made the official announcement on its site.

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'Drone pilots who are unable to comply with the broadcast requirement of the Remote ID Rule will now have until March 16, 2024, to equip their aircraft. After that date, operators could face fines and suspension or revocation of pilot certificates.

In making this decision, the FAA recognizes the unanticipated issues that some operators are experiencing finding remote identification broadcast modules. Drone pilots can meet this deadline by purchasing a standard Remote ID equipped drone from a manufacturer or purchasing a Remote ID broadcast module which can be affixed to existing drones that do not have Remote ID equipment.

Remote ID acts like a digital license plate and will help the FAA, law enforcement, and other federal agencies find the control station when a drone appears to be flying in an unsafe manner or where it is not allowed to fly,' the statement reads.

Newer drone models such as the Mavic 3 Pro (left) and standard Mavic 3 (right) already have Remote ID built in. There is no need to purchase a separate broadcast module.

Newer drone models such as DJI’s Mavic 3 series, Avata, and Air 2S already have Remote ID built in and are included in the FAA's Declaration of Compliance list. This means that a simple firmware update is all that's needed to activate Remote ID.

Older models such as the Phantom 4 Pro, Mavic Air 2, and Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom don’t have Remote ID built in yet but are expected to have firmware updates to make them compliant, without the need for an external module, by the end of this year.

Any operator flying a drone that weighs over 250g and doesn't want to comply with Remote ID can fly in FAA-recognized identification areas (FRIAs). Right now, the FAA is behind on its approval process of these designated areas. Screenshot is from the FAA's official site.

Overall, by March 16th, 2024, commercial and recreational remote pilots will need to comply with Remote ID in one of the three following ways:

  • Operate a Standard Remote ID drone: By September 22, 2022, drone manufacturers were required to create drones with Remote ID broadcast capability. If you’ve seen a notice saying ‘Remote ID Error’ on your app’s screen, this means it’s already built into the drone.
  • Purchase a separate Remote ID broadcast module: right now, manufacturers haven’t been able to produce enough of these modules to meet the demand. A module is attached to the drone and its serial number needs to be entered alongside your registered drone in the FAADroneZone. Pilots operating a drone with a broadcast module must maintain visual line of sight at all times.
  • Operate without Remote ID: FAA-recognized identification areas (FRIAs) are sponsored by community-based organizations (CBOs) or educational institutions. These areas must be approved by the FAA. FRIAs are the only locations where drones weighing more than 250g can legally operate without broadcasting Remote ID.

Though the FAA doesn’t mention it in its announcement, another reason Remote ID compliance is being pushed back six months is because the agency is behind on approving FRIAs. According to the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), roughly 700 sites have been accepted, 200 proposals have been declined, and another 800 are still waiting for approval.

‘Our club flying site has flown at the Watervliet airport for 20 years and was rejected. The AMA is appealing the ruling, but if we don’t get approval, all club members will have to have RID modules to continue flying there. I can see why the naysayers have said this will kill the RC hobby,’ Bud Seymour explains.

If you are flying a sub-250g drone recreationally, such as any of DJI's Mini drones, pictured above, you don't need to adhere to Remote ID. No registration = no Remote ID.

It’s important to remember that if you’re flying a drone recreationally and it weighs less than 250g, including DJI’s Mavic Mini, Mini 2, and Mini 3, or Autel’s Nano, you are exempt from Remote ID rules. As long as you’re not flying under Part 107 for profit, you don’t need to register a sub-250g drone.

No registration means no Remote ID. You will still need to adhere to standard aviation rules, including avoiding areas designated with a Temporary Flight Restriction and getting approval, if needed, to operate in controlled airspace.

While the six-month extension period gives remote pilots more time to prepare for Remote ID, there is still work to be done. The Drone Service Providers Alliance acknowledges that the FPV hobby shouldn’t be impacted by this ruling. The organization will be appealing to Congress as it deems the need for FPV pilots to be flying a Remote ID-compliant drone with a broadcast module at events unnecessary.

We will continue to keep you updated on the latest developments surrounding Remote ID.