FAA drone compliance

It’s September 16, 2022, which means that the FAA’s drone Remote ID requirements for manufacturers goes into effect today.

What does that mean? That means you should be very careful about the drones you buy.

Update: The FAA has extended their enforcement commencement date. You now have until March 16, 2024 to update or replace your non-compliant aircraft.

Remote ID overview

Effective immediately, the new FAA law is in place that requires drone brands to include compliant Remote ID hardware for all drones on store shelves.

FAA Remote ID classifications

Remote ID requires your aircraft to transmit a unique Identifying ID, the location and some telemetry of the aircraft, and the location of the controller. This transmission will be publicly accessible, but your personal info remains accessible only to authorities. Similar to the license plate on your car.

Aircraft without this hardware built in may use an external module. If using an external module, the remote control location will not be reported, instead the take-off location is included.

Your existing fleet has one more year to upgrade, or retire, but any new drone announced after Sept. 16, 2022 must have Remote ID baked in.

What do I need to do?

Do not purchase a non-compliant drone, that would be a waste of money. Otherwise, there is nothing that you need to do today.

What drones can I buy?

The FAA is maintaining a list of compliant aircraft. For now, a few commercial drones are good to go, as well as the DJI Air 2S, DJI Mini 3 Pro, and the DJI Mavic 3 series drones.

We will maintain a list as well, coming soon.

Can I fly without Remote ID?

The only listed method of flying without a Remote ID transmitter in or on your drone is to operate within a FRIA. That’s a FAA Recognized Identification Area.

FRIA are pre-approved community-based or educational flight areas that have fixed locations and will allow drones to operate under strict guidance. Your local hobby airstrip will likely apply to become a FRIA. Upon approval, you need only be a member of the organization and follow the rules of the club to operate your non-compliant aircraft.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is drone Remote ID?

Drone Remote ID is a hardware requirement enforced by the FAA in the United States that provides real-time information about the location of any small unmanned aircraft.

It is a local transmission system, piggybacking on the same connection frequencies as your remote control or FPV video system. Receiver stations will be able to see the Unique ID of the craft, its GPS location, altitude, flight speed, and the controller’s GPS location.

Drones without dedicated hardware may use an external module, or may fly within pre-defined areas, such as hobby flight fields, that have been approved to allow non-compliant aircraft.

What do I do with my old drone?

Your older drones may be compliant. Check with your manufacturer for software updates that may enable the required features. For example, most DJI drones will be compliant with a firmware update.

Third-party modules will be light-weight and easy to install on your craft. These satisfy the Remote ID requirements.

You have until September 16, 2023 to comply, or you will have to retire your drone.

How much does drone Remote ID cost?

There are no fixed costs for drone Remote ID.

You may have to purchase a third-party module, or otherwise pay to upgrade your drone, but there are no extra fees to register your Unique ID numbers, nor to operate.

What happens if I fly without Remote ID?

As an aircraft operating within the National Airspace of the United States, you will be held accountable for any aviation laws regarding the licensing and operation of an aircraft. This can include fines up to $200,000, and civil lawsuits if you put any humans in harms way.

As Remote ID is a local transmission technology, law enforcement will need to be in your area to identify your flight. Most modern drones include identification information already. Basically, if your remote controller is able to display the current GPS location, altitude, speed, or other telemetry of the drone, that info is accessible in the connecting radio signal. It will be encrypted to protect you from signal hacking, but tools already exist from the manufacturers that can assist law enforcement in identifying the location of drones. Learn more about DJI Aeroscope.

Do I need Remote ID for a toy drone?

The FAA states that drones that are exempt from registration requirements are also exempt from Remote ID requirements. This means that drones that weigh less than 250 grams, and will not be used for any business case, do not need Remote ID hardware.

If your toy drone weighs 250g or more, or if you will be compensated in any way for the flight, including putting videos on YouTube with Monetization turned on, then your drone will need Remote ID hardware.

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