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EAST LANSING, MI. – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced last month final 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. 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.

Remote ID is a major step toward the full integration of drones into the national airspace system. Remote ID provides identification of drones in flight as well as the location of their control stations, providing crucial information to our national security agencies and law enforcement partners, and other officials charged with ensuring public safety. Part 107 of the federal aviation regulations currently prohibits covered drone operations over people and at night unless the operator obtains a waiver from the FAA. The new FAA regulations jointly provide increased flexibility to conduct certain small UAS without obtaining waiver. 

The Remote ID rule (PDF) 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 Operations Over People and at Night rule applies to Part 107 operators. The ability to fly over people and moving vehicles varies depending on the level of risk a small drone operation presents to people on the ground. Operations are permitted based on four categories, which can be found in the executive summary (PDF) accompanying the rule. Additionally, this rule allows for operations at night under certain conditions. 

The final rule also 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 which is expected this month. 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.

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