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Senators urge FAA to quickly approve drone identification rules

Government officials are looking to add more than a simple license plate to UAVs.

It's been an eventful week for the drone industry. One topic that dominated keynotes, seminars, and conversations at AUVSI's annual XPONENTIAL conference was the urgency for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to finalize the remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

This past Monday, the same day XPONENTIAL kicked off in Chicago, two senators, Edward Markey, a Democrat, and John Thune, a Republican, urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to take action. 'Remote identification will enhance safety, security, and privacy, and serve as a critical tool for law enforcement to respond to and address reports of illegal and unauthorized drone operations,' the senators said in a letter to Chao.

Chao started proposing rules in January that will increasingly incorporate drones into the National Airspace Systems (NAS) including the ability for commercial remote pilots to fly over populated areas. However, the FAA noted that these measures cannot be implemented 'without a remote identification rule in place.'

What is Remote ID?

Remote ID, in its simplest form, is the concept that drones should have a digital license plate. Unlike a plate on an automobile, a string of letters and numbers attached to a drone cannot be identified from the ground. Instead, there will be an electronic system that verifies the location and operator while it is airborne.

As sales of unmanned aerial vehicles are expected to increase rapidly over the next few years, this system needs to be in place to ensure transparency and responsibility. Remote ID, when implemented properly, will allow complex operations, including flights beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS), to be performed by enterprises and commercial remote pilots at scale.

A long, arduous journey in the making

At a Monday afternoon AUVSI panel, DJI's Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs, Brendan Schulman, acknowledged that he and fellow panel member Mark Aitken had spent a summer on the Remote ID Rulemaking Aviation committee. The resulting papers were submitted at AUVSI XPONENTIAL two years ago and 'we still don't have a proposed Remote ID rule,' says Schulman.

'Some of us at DJI believe this is an important solution to accountability, safety, security, as well as local laws like policy laws.' Schulman went on to state that it will help hold people accountable when something bad happens. He also acknowledged that DJI has a huge stake in the outcome for Remote ID. The company has already proven the effectiveness of tracking drones in sensitive areas with its own AeroScope system.

Now, there really isn't a viable excuse for any further delays as the group acknowledged that the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 gives the agency five years of predictable funding. Prior to the bill, there were numerous extensions filed, when funds ran short, that would halt progress on examining safety and security issues. 'Imagine running a company and not knowing if you were going to be funded the next couple of weeks,' said the Alliance for Drone Innovation's Jenny Rosenberg.

PrecisionHawk's Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy, Diana Cooper, explained Remote ID and shared her stance to a standing-room-only crowd. 'Remote ID is like an electronic license plate. We're already used to driving around on roads and having some sort of an identifier. I think it's absolutely reasonable for operators across the board to have a similar license-type plate system for enforcement and compliance.'

'Remote ID is like an electronic license plate. We're already used to driving around on roads and having some sort of an identifier. I think it's absolutely reasonable for operators across the board to have a similar license-type plate system for enforcement and compliance.'

Cooper also delved into the history of how the FAA was formed. Initially there were two airspace regulators, civilian and military. The consequences included mid-air collisions that only ceased when the two branches merged. If two couldn't effectively make airspace safe, 3,000 counties attempting to enforce their own regulations will result in further stagnation for growth in the commercial drone industry.

A business cannot thrive if it has to address a separate set of safety and compliance regulations across every city it plans to operate. There are too many costs to take if they have to deal with various rules, knowledge tests, and restrictions across counties. Remote ID needs a uniform policy to work. Rosenberg summed up the conundrum with one statement: 'do we want our Air Traffic Controllers to be focused on their job, or do we want them to start being trained security professionals?'

'One thing that I've noticed is that the relationship between policy outcomes and public sentiment is very close,' said Schulman in the hopes that there will be more interest in commenting on a forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Remote ID. He was not too pleased that a small fraction of certified remote pilots left remarks on two recent NPRMs.

When it comes to making Remote ID a success, it needs to be easy, simple, and low to no-cost. Otherwise the interest won't be there and the system will ultimately fail. Some issues Schulman wants the public to think about and address when the time comes: what is this going to cost? For recreational users being pulled into the regulatory environment with the passing of Section 349, how can they be responsible? More than cost and complexity, the issue of privacy is also at stake. Where will flight information be stored and who is allowed access?

It's time for execution

Acting Deputy Administrator, Carl Burleson, stated that over 1.4 million drones have been registered, since it became a requirement, and more than 130,000 Part 107 certifications have been issued. 'There are nearly four times as many UAS than manned aircraft in the NAS (National Airspace System)' said Burleson at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL keynote, 'The Power of Execution,' on Wednesday morning.

He acknowledged that Remote ID is a mandatory first step towards further integration of drones into the NAS. 'We understand that remote identification is fundamental.' Remote ID Rulemaking should have started on May 1st but has been postponed to July 21st. As Burleson put it, 'it is a regulator's job to find a way forward to integrate drones.'

For a comprehensive look at Remote ID, download this free white paper from Kittyhawk.

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Michael1000

I doubt the cost of the ID equipment will be the end of the story. Just like every other ID registration, the government will get their hands on your wallet for annual registration fees for not only the drone but the drone pilot. Then the special fees start getting applied: battery disposal waste fee, noise abatement fee, drone ID monitoring fee, drone pilot education fee, drone safety research fee, drone environmental impact fee, Department of Drones fee. Don't forget the mandatory drone proof of insurance.

3 weeks ago*
daqk

I wrote my phone numbers on my drone for at least two purposes:
1. To show I am responsible and care public air space safety
2. To be able to get if not drone at least my video/photo footage back
... ...
Not sure what is the proper way FAA should do, when there are more drones flying ... they'd better be regulated before hit something more important up in the sky. lol

3 weeks ago
peter zuehlke

i think if it is over .55 lbs, it is supposed to be registered with the number on the drone. https://www.faa.gov/uas/recreational_fliers/

3 weeks ago
daqk

Known it too, hence I only will get a "fancy" drone if it is <260g.
Technology will advance so as the price value ... tomorrow.
DJI will wake up maybe it did already ... for their next product SPARK--. lol

3 weeks ago*
junk1

Including non-profit hobbyists? And at what cost? All of us own the airspace, not just commercial airlines and Amazon...

3 weeks ago
dpfan32
dpfan32

Where are you living?
Nothing belongs you and me :P They can freeze your bank account, they can take away your property, they can put you in jail for minor things.
Where are you living?

3 weeks ago*
SmilerGrogan

Let’s get real here, drones are the future of warfare. Just look at the recent Gatwick incident—that was no disgruntled employee, it was a foreign army or a terrorist cell probing the security around the airport.
So what is the correct way to preserve the freedom to use the sky for out art while limiting those bad actors whose goal is to rain down death from above?

3 weeks ago
mfinley

So many negative comments. Its as if drone users have no perspective on where drone numbers are going.

When automobiles were out numbered by horses there was no reason to ever think there was ever going to be such a thing as a speed limit. The future is more and more drones. Drone owners should get behind a competent system of regulation because the issue isn't if there will be regulation, only how it will end up.

With drone numbers exploding it's only a matter of time for incidents to begin turning the public completely and irreversibly against them, drone owners should be smart enough to know if you want your past time to have a future you need to get ahead of the problems before they get out of hand.

Your drones are being banned faster and faster at every location around the planet, everywhere I travel I see the no drones allowed signs. The writing is on the wall for you guys, you should embrace something that is trying to help you keep flying.

3 weeks ago*
junk1

who says they will start allowing drones if they add the ID requirement?

3 weeks ago
mfinley

Drones are already allowed in 99% of the rest of the world, I would think drone operators would be concerned with keeping the other 99% available. As far as drones being allowed back at places banned, who knows, maybe over a long period of time, but most people not flying them in a tourist place find them annoying and distracting from nature with their whiney buzzing. And drone operators like the ones who have splashed them into Yellowstones prismatic pool and other things like that have probably put the death on their return. And that's the problem the more cowboy like that drones continue to be used and abused and accidents happening the more the response is simply to ban them. I'd think drone operators would be looking for anything that is in their favor instead of being negative about it.

3 weeks ago
junk1

Make up your mind, prior msg said they are banned everywhere you go.

3 weeks ago
mfinley

intelligent response

3 weeks ago
badbob42mk1

will be easier to get a gun then a drone soon lol ( usa)

3 weeks ago
808_freedive

50g of soft plastic, no payload, 2000mA battery, rotors made out rubber and they get smaller every years. Utter waste of time and taxmoney for what is essentially a toycopter for the less coordinated.

Limit range and altitude to a 300f cube of space. This way a drone can be associated with its owner and no need for idiot rules and registration.

As always in America we try everything else first before we do the right thing...sometimes.

3 weeks ago
EskeRahn
EskeRahn

The weight in it self is by far the only important matter.

The energy it hits with is E = m v²

What is the end velocity if a drone fails completely, and make a free fall out of the sky from say 100m up?

The frictions matter a LOT here of course reducing the speed. (It is NOT like a free falling 50g heavy bullet)
So it will for sure be LESS than the friction free roughly 45m/s (or 100Mi/h)

But I'm pretty sure that if you toss a 50g (dead) drone out from the top of a 100m building, it could cause a lot of damage where it hits.

3 weeks ago*
lickity split
lickity split

Toss anything off a 100meter building and it’ll cause damage , perhaps we ban everything from entering building ,

3 weeks ago
EskeRahn
EskeRahn

@lickity split
An odd way of saying that you disagree with the OP, and agree that a 50g drone falling 100m would be problematic?

Or was it just meant as a polemic sidetrack of the topic?
(Strictly it would not be "anything", say a feather or a leave would not be an issue due to the friction with the air)

3 weeks ago*
lickity split
lickity split

@eske , I guess your not a drone user because they just don’t drop out of the sky , I’ve got over 6 million ft (1000 miles+) on mine and never experienced such a problem , draining the battery to dangerous levels forces a automatic landing ...

You really should just remain quiet if your clueless on how things works

3 weeks ago
EskeRahn
EskeRahn

@lickity split, Talking about clueless... *LOL"
So you never experienced mechanical or electronic things to fail catastrophically? Well lucky you...

3 weeks ago
lickity split
lickity split

@eske , I guess we should ground all aircraft with that logic ,

You should just remain in your bunker cause you never know what may happen if you venture outside .... 🤔🤔😂😂😂😂😂

3 weeks ago
EskeRahn
EskeRahn

@lickity split, "Logic"? By what you wrote above, I'm surprised you even know the word. I'll give up on you.

3 weeks ago
lickity split
lickity split

@eske , just don’t give up on yourself no matter how crappy your existence is , it’ll get better 😂😂😂😂😂😂

3 weeks ago
808_freedive

Eske.
I just illustrate the absurdities when you let peabrains regulate things that are beyond their paygrade. I despise idiocy. V of a drone freefalling is minuscule. Watch people walking into signposts while phoning and 3kg of head hit steelbar at 5mph...

3 weeks ago
Oilcruzer
Oilcruzer

This will remain restricted.

And to the headline, Safety and Privacy concerns cannot be rushed.

Ask the FAA what happened with the approval of the Boeing 737 Max8.

1 week ago
photomedium

I'll let Philip Bloom and other video-pros worry about all this sh*t and enjoy their drone productions. 5 years ago drones were already a PITA to deal with, now fuggetabouit.

3 weeks ago*
jxh

People who do not wish to be identified (for whatever reason) can simply modify open source code and make the device non responsive.

This is how pirate radio works these days. A remote transmitter is located miles from the operator, fed by the internet and is almost impossible to trace.

3 weeks ago*
RedFox88

Do that.....if you want.....good luck with that

3 weeks ago
NextShowForSure

Like IFF with no correct response shoot it down or jam it with the added benefit that no drone going down friendly or not is any great loss.
Changing the codes every month through secured channels would make it more difficult for the naughtier boys playing with their pesky toys.

3 weeks ago*
Jay Williams
Jay Williams

@jxh You mean you don't like the surveillance state? Tyrants? Don't expect many "Likes."

3 weeks ago*
MrBrightSide
MrBrightSide

There are still pirate radio stations? That is so cool, but where?

3 weeks ago
Kinski

The should also focus on relaxing drones for commercial photos. Can't make sense that for fun you can take the same photo without any license and as soon you take money for it you have to do a test every 2 years. Not even a pilot takes his test every 2 years. In Germany it goes by the weight of the Drone not the purpose of use! Makes mores sense. Also it's mandatory to have insurance! Which is dirt cheap.

3 weeks ago
mxx
mxx

The German model makes sense.

3 weeks ago
Inspired Art Photos

Insurance for a any commercial operator is not cheap. Commercial insurance starts at 600 a year and goes up based on application use and location. It can easily be 1500 a year.

2 weeks ago
lickity split
lickity split

Suck the joy right out of flying ,
The same “ digital license plate” that’s used it ID a drone/ operator can easily be hacked , complete waste of resources

3 weeks ago
3pgrey

Yup radio stations all over the world fight a constant battle from hackers /s

3 weeks ago
mfinley

Anything can be hacked, anything can be gotten around. Your house can be broken into but you still lock the door. Digital ids are to police the 99% of the law abiding citizens and give accountability. The other 1% will be taken care of as always through the courts.

3 weeks ago
Roland Karlsson

Yes, rules are for setting limits for the law abiding citizens. And as most citizens are law abiding, it has great effect.

3 weeks ago
lickity split
lickity split

An owner can simply say he sold the drone and fly as he wishes , just another way for big brother to get involved

3 weeks ago
Roland Karlsson

No he can't. Maybe you can. But most can't.

3 weeks ago
lickity split
lickity split

Sure can , buy a drone and fly as you wish if big brother comes knocking say you sold it

3 weeks ago
Roland Karlsson

I do not think you got my message. Most cannot do things that are criminal or lie. It is against their belief. It seems like you can though.

3 weeks ago*
In the Raw
In the Raw

I have no problem with mandatory registration and especially insurance for drones over a certain weight. I've flown RC models for many decades (and now drones too) and at club flying fields we have mandatory licences and insurance (and we need it; people get injured or even killed when large scale models crash, or when some careless person gets cut or loses a finger/s...I've seen that happen many times).

As long as the regulations are fair and workable, it helps keep the hobby alive for everyone and covers commercial concerns too. Oh and although a drone operator may not be a pilot in the conventional sense (or maybe they are, pilots are common in the hobby) they are still piloting the drone. ;-)

3 weeks ago*
racin06

I'm also a long time flyer of RC airplanes, helicopters and drones. The potential issue I see with remote ID of recreational aircraft is the cost. How much will this cost the average RC aircraft hobbyist to install remote ID hardware? It it's expensive, say goodbye to our hobby and the AMA.

3 weeks ago
junk1

Do ultra lites even have IFF?

3 weeks ago
Inspired Art Photos

I am an AMA member and carry their insurance. Great Organization!

2 weeks ago
Craig Gillette

What problems are we really looking to solve? Regulation and identification always works. (Insert snickers here) The track record of identification, registration, licensing, insurance, etc. as applied to drivers, vehicles, firearms, boats, aircraft, etc., works well (or not) for those willing to participate in the schemes. And seems to work not at all for those not interested in playing the game. And the longer it takes to work out wrinkles, the more "drones" out there that are non-compliant.

That's not to say there aren't some concerns. Positive traffic control may well be needed. Expecting this to preclude bad actors acting badly? Not so sure.

3 weeks ago
Kiwisnap

Fortunately not every drone pilot reading this site lives in the USA ...

3 weeks ago
Lee Jay

What a complete waste of time and resources.

Drone hysteria is literally much ado about nothing, when it comes to the national airspace.

Recreational pilots aren't going to follow such a dumb rule anyway, nor should they have to.

"... recreational users being pulled into the regulatory environment ..."

Recreational users didn't cause problems in the NAS for 7 decades, so why regulate something that isn't a problem?

Idiots.

3 weeks ago
Daviddmf

Head in the sand much?The potential for a problem exists.Exclusion, proximity issues covered by compliance with laws in many jurisdictions mean nothing to some users.Observations of use near children, out of view, over restricted areas have occurred.

3 weeks ago
Lee Jay

The potential for a problem in the national airspace is literally 1 million times less for drones than for birds.

Maybe they should be required to carry transponders too.

3 weeks ago
lilBuddha

There are current issues that cost actual lives, not the Potential of drone problems. This is being driven by paranoia more than anything else. The drone industry doesn't have the lobbying power of the groups causing real problems.
I would guess that DJI supports legislation because they have the technology at hand and they are trying to head off drones facing bans.

3 weeks ago
capeminiol

Seven decades? Oh, you mean kites.

3 weeks ago
Jay Williams
Jay Williams

"The potential for a problem exists."

The only way people like you will ever be happy is to completely regulate freedom out of existence.

3 weeks ago
mfinley

@ Lee Jay
"Recreational users didn't cause problems in the NAS for 7 decades, so why regulate something that isn't a problem?"

Tell that to Gatwick Airport and the 10,000 people who missed flights due to the idiot recreation users who flew a drone there. The FAA reports at least one drone related issue per day.

3 weeks ago*
ColdEd

"Seven decades? Oh, you mean kites".

No, the Academy of Model Aeronautics was founded in 1936 or about 83 years ago. The hobby began with wired/control line model aircraft and soon after, began using wireless (analog) control links. Model aviation has indeed been around for almost a century.

3 weeks ago
agnost

This afternoon I saw a drone crash into a parked car and do noticeable damage. I'd be willing to bet it wasn't even close to being the only out-of-control drone that damaged property today.

3 weeks ago
Lee Jay

So what? Those of us who fly recreationally and responsibly belong to the AMA, and that membership carries 2 1/2 million dollars of liability insurance with it. It's dirt cheap - $75 a year for the insurance, the magazine and all the other things AMA does. You know why it's so cheap? Because claims are so rare. In other words, it's not a real problem.

New regulations aren't going to prevent people from doing things that were already illegal before the new regulations. It's already illegal to intentionally interfere with a full-scale airplane, it's already illegal to fly in class B airspace. So, how are new regulations going to do anything to stop people from doing stuff that's already illegal?

3 weeks ago
mfinley

" - $75 a year for the insurance, the magazine and all the other things AMA does. You know why it's so cheap? Because claims are so rare. In other words, it's not a real problem."

i'm guessing within a year or two you won't be able to post the same thing, watch as your insurance goes higher and higher and eventually disappears after a few large claims and as legislation increases liability to reckless drone accidents that will ruin it for everyone. It won't take too many to change everything that you think is never going to change.

3 weeks ago
Lee Jay

People have been saying that for about 5 or 6 years.

People who do stupid stuff don't belong to AMA. They're going to do stupid stuff regulations or no. People who belong to AMA, by and large, are responsible. So insurance is cheap.

None of these regulations are going to have any impact on those who are violating current rules. They'll only impact those of us who are now and have always flown responsibly.

3 weeks ago*
ColdEd

mfinley: You are behind the times on the Gatwick Airport/drone reports.

First, the police concluded the drone was operated by a disgruntled airport employee, not a recreational flyer.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6727483/Disgruntled-airport-employee-Gatwick-drone-chaos-source-claims.html

Second, the Sussex Police admitted that many of the subsequent drone sightings were likely of drones operated by the Sussex Police Department itself.

The Sussex PD established a drone program to provide surveillance at the airport, back in 2014. As of 2018, they had over 40 officers trained to operate SPD drones - which were "large" and of the "industrial specification" type described by the airport during the Gatwick incident.

The SPD launched their own drones at Gatwick Airport to hunt for the errant drone. However, there are no distinguishing lights on the SPD drones - and no way for observers to know if they were seeing a police drone or an errant drone. SPD has admitted this.

3 weeks ago
junk1

Pretty interesting but is a privately owned drone and mischievous... I was hoping it was a police or airport owned drone as per prior article.

3 weeks ago
brycesteiner
brycesteiner

We need to look into getting the rules opened up for small aerial vehicle transportation. China opened this up and is way ahead of of the US in the development.

3 weeks ago
RedFox88

Nope. And this isn’t China thankfully. They “opened up” polluting tights and have nearly un breathable air in big cities. 🙄

3 weeks ago
Sergey Borachev

Pollution is a slightly different area and it obviously needs good control. However, let's not politicise an important issue.
Aviation safety is more directly relevant here, and what happened in the cases of 737 Max crashing should be more relevant. The ease with which Boeing can get FAA's approval, FAA's reluctance to ban those airplanes even after the disasters, and the credibility and independence of this approval body are more important considerationsn, even though it's not China's.

3 weeks ago*
ClosePhoto

The 737 Max issue was caused by the negligence of two 3rd world countries failing to train their pilots how to deal with system failures, an event that occurs with great frequency on aircraft, and the primary reason aircrews still exist. Those planes had 40 times more flight hours in the US without a single crash.

3 weeks ago
xPhoenix
xPhoenix

Wrong. Boeing knew about these issues for at least year. These deaths were directly caused by Boeing's negligence. Just one example:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/boeing-knew-about-safety-alert-problem-for-a-year-before-telling-faa-airlines-11557087129?mod=rsswn

3 weeks ago
ClosePhoto

xPhoenix Wrong. The largest airline pilots unions agreed there was no need to ground the aircraft, but call for "additional training". That "additional training" refers to handling the potential failure (all systems can and will fail) of the MCAS system.

On the Ethiopian flight a sensor failed, likely due to a bird strike, the idiot pilots initially disabled, then REENABLED the failed flight control system immediately prior to the crash.

Now Boeing is working to make the system idiot proof, compensating for the lack of maintaining training standards common in third world countries like Ethiopia, where the pilots had NO ADDITIONAL training for the updated 737 MAX.

https://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2019/04/28/american-airlines-pilots-said-the-737-max-was-safe-now-they-say-boeings-plan-isnt-enough/

3 weeks ago
xPhoenix
xPhoenix

What do you work for Boeing or something? They tried to rush this plane to market without any additional training so they could compete with Airbus. The new engines and their placement led to stability issues, then they came up with a hair-brained software "fix" to avoid stalls. This system relied on ONE sensor, and they made the second one a paid option. They basically self-certified, and mislead the FAA on how much control this MCAS system could assert. It was supposed to have a small amount of control, but they changed it after the fact.

If you actually read about the Ethiopian crash, you'd know they disabled the system because it was trying to fly them into the ground. They tried to manually trim out the plane, but the stupid MCAS had already trimmed the stabilizer so much that it was physically impossible to do it manually. So, they had to re-enable the electric trim. However, this made the MCAS turn on again, and well, you know the rest. This is all about greed.

3 weeks ago
brycesteiner
brycesteiner

>>This is all about greed.

What greed would they gain by putting out a system that would crash? I agree that they should not be charging additional for the other sensor. But if it was do to a sensor malfunction, I really can't call that greed. Things happen.

As for the software being a fix - isn't software always there to control the hardware? You always have to "fix" software to make the hardware perform more optimally. New engines are going to have to have software to control them. It's always a work in progress - just look at Windows and Mac OS. You also cannot have every possible scenario all worked out so there will be updates as they find more variables that have to be corrected.

3 weeks ago*
Sergey Borachev

It's more than just about software or hardware, bugs or omissions. Or fixes and claims. People have died, hundreds of them, and probably unnecessarily. It's likely a criminal case.

3 weeks ago*
xPhoenix
xPhoenix

It's about greed because they knew the plan had issues, yet they put it out anyway. Heck, they wouldn't have even grounded them after TWO crashes if it weren't for the rest of the world forcing their hand. They badly needed an aircraft to compete with the Airbus NEO, so they jerry-rigged a 737 with oversized engines and whacked out flight characteristics, and this is the result. The CEO and others need to be held criminally liable. What they did is sick and disgusting.

3 weeks ago*
tvstaff
tvstaff

They need the Japanese penits I'd system it works on planes so it should work on drones too with no external power.

3 weeks ago