The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced 2 new rules for Unmanned Aircraft (UA), commonly known as drones. 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. Drones now 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 that Remote ID will help mitigate risks associated with expanded drone operations, such as flights over people and at night, and both rules support technological and operational innovation and advancements.
“These final rules carefully address safety, security and privacy concerns while advancing opportunities for innovation and utilization of drone technology,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
Remote ID will be a milestone toward the full integration of drones into the national airspace system. Remote ID will allow for the identification of drones and the location of the operator. This should go a long way into helping to make the airspace safe for everyone, and to better identify those that are operating in a dangerous manner.
The Remote ID technology builds on previous steps taken by the FAA and the drone industry to integrate operations safely into the national airspace. Currently, flying over people or at night requires a Part 107 waiver. These new regulations shall provide more flexibility and not require as many waivers for flight.
“The new rules make way for the further integration of drones into our airspace by addressing safety and security concerns,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson. “They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages.”
The FAA says that the Remote ID rule applies to all operators of drones that require FAA registration. There are three ways to comply with the operational requirements:
1. Operate a standard Remote ID drone that broadcasts identification and location information of the drone and control station;
2. Operate a drone with a Remote ID broadcast module (may be a separate device attached to the drone), which broadcasts identification, location, and take-off information; or
3. Operate a drone without Remote ID but at specific FAA-recognized identification areas.
The final rule then goes on to say that the Operations Over People and At Night rule apply to Part 107 Operators. These rules will still take into account the level of risk for each of these activities.
Operations are permitted based on four categories, which can be found in the executive summary accompanying the rule.
Category 1, Category 2, Category 3, and Category 4 Eligibility for operations over people.
The final rule establishes four new categories of small unmanned aircraft for routine operations over people: The final rule also allows for routine operations over moving vehicles.
• Category 1 eligible small unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 0.55, including everything on board or otherwise attached, and contain no exposed rotating parts that would lacerate human skin. No FAA-accepted Means of Compliance (MOC) or Declaration of Compliance (DOC)
• Category 2 eligible small unmanned aircraft must not cause injury to a human being that is equivalent to or greater than the severity of injury caused by a transfer of 11 foot-pounds of kinetic energy upon impact from a rigid object, does not contain any exposed rotating parts that could lacerate human skin upon impact with a human being, and does not contain any safety defects. Requires FAA-accepted means of compliance and FAA-accepted declaration of compliance.
• Category 3 eligible small unmanned aircraft must not cause injury to a human being that is equivalent to or greater than the severity of injury caused by a transfer of 25 foot-pounds of kinetic energy upon impact from a rigid object, does not contain any exposed rotating parts that could lacerate human skin upon impact with a human being, and does not contain any safety defects. Requires FAA-accepted means of compliance and FAA-accepted declaration of compliance.
• Category 4 eligible small unmanned aircraft must have an airworthiness certificate issued under Part 21 of FAA regulations. Must be operated in accordance with the operating limitations specified in the approved Flight Manual or as otherwise specified by the Administrator. The operating limitations must not prohibit operations over human beings. Must have maintenance, preventive maintenance, alterations, or inspections performed in accordance with specific requirements in the final rule.
The final rule also requires that small drone operators have their remote pilot certificate and identification in their physical possession when operating and have it ready to present to authorities if needed and present the eligibility classification. The final rule replaces the requirement to complete a recurrent test every 24 calendar months with the requirement to complete updated recurrent training that includes operating at night in identified subject areas.
Both rules will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Remote ID rule includes two compliance dates. Drone manufacturers will have 18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID, with operators having an additional year to start using drones with Remote ID.