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Today we’re gonna be talking about the new FAA proposed remote ID program that just sent shockwaves in the industry.
We will go into it layer by layer and examine it as it’s something that’s going to affect every drone pilot, whether you’re a hobbyist or commercial flier.
Let’s get right into the nuts and bolts of this FAA proposal. This is a plan that is extremely complex and complicated, it has over 319 pages on an official document. We’re gonna break down this plan as best we can, layer by layer and then, at the end of that give you some of our opinions, advice and interpretations on this plan.
The purpose of this proposed plan is to have a system in place that will incorporate safety and security with drones going forward. This will include safety for airports, huge events, air traffic in general and also FAA law enforcement. The goal of this plan is to set the foundation for commercial integration going forward.
As we all know, drone deliveries are right around the corner and companies are starting to get already pre-approved on limited basis for testing for beyond line of sight drone deliveries.
In the years to come, we’re gonna have millions of drones out there just for delivery end of things so as you can imagine there’s a system that’s gonna need to be in place to be able to regulate and manage all of these drones.
National Airspace System has three interdependent parts that are all working together simultaneously: first is this proposal that is going to be working toward a finalized version of this plan; the second is going to be determining the service providers that are going to actually provide the service to this plan and the third is the actual working toward developing the official manufacturer specifications needed for the proposal.
Once in place, all drones going forward are going to be required to have new technology that’s FAA approved and certified. This will make all drones to be able to comply with the remote ID program which means that drone will have to be able to broadcast the latitude, longitude and the altitude, not only of the aircraft but also the remote ground station (where the remote pilot is).
3 Year buffer period
This data is going to be made public so there’s a lot of moving parts of this and it’s going to be very complex. There’s going to be a three-year buffer period by the time the rules and regulations are finalized.
With that said, let’s talk about a little bit about this timeline.
Over the next two months, January and February of 2020, the FAA is giving a period for the public to comment on all proposed data and then they’re gonna take all those comments and work together over the next 18 months to finalize the program.
What if I already own a drone? Is this only for the drones that are bought after the proposal comes into action?
To clarify, this is going to affect all remote pilots whether you’re a hobbyist or a commercial pilot, it is going to affect everybody. There’re three exceptions to this program and which are: built drones, drones that weigh less than 250 grams or drones that are owned by the government.
What if you own a drone currently, will you be able to fly in four and a half years?
That’s to be determined as we don’t know if you would be able to retrofit your current drone through this newest technology. We can only make guesses at this point but we feel that the current drones are not going to be able to be retrofitted.
I’m sure that any drone going forward is going to have to be built with that design in mind – it will have to have the ability to be retrofitted. So for example, if you buy a drone in a year and a half or two years, you should pay attention to the capability of the drone to be retrofitted.
ID for every drone
Going forward, every drone will be need to be registered. Right now, that is not the case because if you’re a hobbyist, you only need to register one ID and then you could put that same ID on every aircraft.
Going forward, every aircraft will have to be registered. And this stirred the emotions and sent shockwaves through the community.
There’s a lot of issues at hand with a program like this in place because the average drone pilot has no incentive to abide by the current FAA policies that are out there.
There are no drone police in the sky that are going to prevent you from doing anything and on average 8 out of every 10 drone operators is very responsible. But the 2 out of 10 make it difficult for the professionals and for those that are very responsible in the
Industry. So that is the reason to understand why we need this proposal to take place as the industry is highly unregulated right now, preventing it from growing and developing.
Costs and security issues
Let’s go over some of the issues that we feel are the biggest ones with this new proposal.
The first one and probably the biggest one is going to be cost. We could definitely say that there’s going to be increased costs for drones and drone equipment going forward.
There’s also going to be increase in service costs and we can definitely imagine and see how hobbyists are gonna have a big problem with that. They’re gonna feel that after years and years of being able to fly their remote aircraft for no cost and little regulation, now they’re getting hit very hard.
Second, we can envision a lot of security issues as once something hits the internet, it becomes very vulnerable to data security. We see that all the time even on the biggest
agencies in the country. How in the world is the FAA going to be able to secure this data so that when you’re flying your drone, someone’s not remoting into it and taking control of it; or at the very least being able to your location and where do you fly your drone.
The third issue at hand involves the remote limited ID drones that are going to be limited to fly only 400 feet away from the drone operator. Whoever came up with this type of a arbitrary 400-foot number has no idea what commercial drone flights are. Majority of commercial flights are going to be over 400 feet.
Another significant factor that’s going to have to be resolved is the issue of the internet connection. A lot of remote areas have sketchy internet access and that could affect drone operations if internet connection is bad.
To summarize, there are very serious issues at hand with this proposed plan in its current form. It can definitely damage the drone industry and that’s why it’s vital for every remote pilot out there to read over this program and submit their feedback to it.
I think the proposed plan is a bit more than is needed at the time. People have been flying remote control aircraft around since the early 60s. The problems that have been described recently, for the last several decades haven’t happened so short technology changes and things move along and we’re at the point now that you can remotely identify aircraft.
However, I don’t know that the hobbyist was taken into account with any of this. Creating commercial pathways in the skies for larger companies like Amazon to work with the FAA to create a system for delivery of packages via drones is great.
It’s a great, you move forward for the industry as a whole but you can’t forget about the people that will be piloting those hobby drones. Commercial aircrafts will one day relegate hobbyist pilots to small areas only and it is a bit too much to ask a guy to register and give all of his data to FAA because he want to fly drone in his backyard.
In the future and in a very short period of time, we could have millions of delivery drones out there so I guess you need a coordination of all drones, not just some drones.
I want to tell the audience that it’s really important that we don’t become divisive about it and we all come together for the common good and not just complain.
We need to get our thoughts and feelings and feedback back to the FAA with some supportive data behind it.
I say to all the pilots, if you don’t feel that this is going to serve – you don’t be quiet about it. Now’s our time, we have to be a vigilant as time is of essence – there’s only been given two months to be able to give feedback.
If we just complain and say this is overreach by the government, this is something that we can’t do anything about – then some of will probably even abandon the hobby and the whole drone thing altogether.
So, for the hardcore pilots among us, it’s our time and we have to do something about this. Make sure your voice is heard, make constructive suggestions to FAA, rally support among dronists for your feedback and hopefully, the final bill will favorable and satisfying to all of us.