FAA Announces Proposed Rule on UAS Remote ID

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
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Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

[co-authors: Justin Towles and Clifford Sweatte, Senior Policy Advisor]

Key Points

  • The FAA issued the highly anticipated NPRM on UAS Remote ID.
  • The NPRM creates three categories of Remote ID compliance: Standard Remote ID UAS, Limited Remote ID UAS and UAS without Remote ID.
  • The NPRM makes changes to UAS registration requirements.

On December 26th, 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the highly anticipated Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Remote Identification (“Remote ID”). The official publication in the Federal Register is expected on December 31, which will kick off a 60-day public comment period. The NPRM follows the September 2017 Remote ID Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) Report and the recently completed ASTM Remote ID Standard, and will ultimately act as a foundational regulation for advanced UAS operations such as flight over people and beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) operations.

The NPRM creates three categories of Remote ID compliance. The majority of aircraft would fall under the Standard Remote ID UAS category and would be required to both (1) transmit identification, altitude, aircraft and ground control station location information to a Remote ID UAS Service Supplier (“Remote ID USS”) via Internet connection and (2) broadcast the message directly from the unmanned aircraft. If the aircraft is designed only to be flown within 400 feet of the pilot and is always operated within visual line of sight, the aircraft would fall into the Limited Remote ID UAS category and would only have to transmit identification, altitude and ground control station location information to a Remote ID USS via Internet connection. The final category is UAS without Remote ID. These aircraft must be flown within visual line of sight only at FAA-recognized identification areas (FRIAs).

The proposed rule sets the threshold for compliance at aircraft above 0.55 pounds, aligning it with the UAS registration rule. However, the NPRM made changes to UAS registration requirements, including eliminating the option of using a single registration number for multiple aircraft. Instead, it requires a unique serial number for each aircraft and additional personal contact information. The rule also sets a lengthy implementation period of 36 months after the final rule. Based on aggressive estimates, this would push the complete implementation well into 2024.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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