FAA Delays Drone Remote ID Tracking, ‘Operations Over People’ Rules


Compliance deadlines for manufacturers and operators have also been pushed out.

A new rule that will develop an identification and tracking ecosystem for domestic drones will now go into effect in April, one month later than originally planned.

The Federal Aviation Administration developed the rule over a couple of years with the goal of establishing a unique identifier for every small unmanned aerial system, or UAS, colloquially known as drones, and a system to track the aircraft at all times when in flight.

The “digital license plates” for drones requires all UAS over 0.55 pounds to be equipped with one of two tracking methods: a built-in system that “broadcasts identification, location and performance information” for both the drone and the operator; or a separate “broadcast module” that can be attached to the UAS and serves the same purpose.

The FAA also included a third option enabling operations without a remote ID capability in pre-designated areas.

Within 18 months of the rule going into effect, UAS manufacturers selling in the U.S. will have to incorporate remote ID capabilities on all drones above the size standard. Drone pilots will have two and a half years to install such capabilities on their existing drones or buy new, compliant UAS.

The remote ID rule was finalized in December and set to go into effect on March 16. However, as with most incoming administrations, the Biden team enacted a regulatory freeze to prevent any new regulations from coming into effect without a review from the new political leadership. The original March 16 date would have fallen just within the 60-day freeze window, prompting FAA to push the effective date out an additional month.

The rule will now go into effect on April 21.

“As a result of the delay in the effective date, the agency is also delaying the compliance date for the production requirements for remote identification broadcast modules by correcting the regulatory text,” according to a notice posted in the Federal Register.

The FAA also delayed a rule allowing drone operators to fly over people and vehicles, in certain situations, as well as at night.

“Part 107 currently prohibits drone operations over people, over moving vehicles and at night unless the operator obtains a waiver from the FAA,” the agency said in a statement. “The new FAA regulations jointly provide increased flexibility to conduct certain small drone operations without obtaining a waiver.”

The Operations Over People rule will also go into effect on April 21.