Over the coming weeks this page will update as I dive deeper into the documentation and proposal. I’m an avid aviation hobbyist and I’m openly sharing my response to the proposal below in the hopes it provides inspiration and insight on how other aviation hobbyists can craft their response. For insight on how to craft an effective response read The Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Adam Looney’s “How to effectively comment on regulations”. 🔗
A brief summary of the proposed regulations:
- The FAA wants to require all drones over .55 pounds to be individually registered and broadcast a unique ID to fly. This is to include all hobbyist aircraft such as fixed wing, helicopter, gliders, etc.;
- The proposed concept of Remote ID is to alleviate the counting challenge of issuing waivers that involve night flights, beyond line-of-sight, etc.;
- There is no defined implementation of just how the Remote ID system will be built and the FAA is pointing to private industry to figure that out;
- The FAA is proposing that almost every unmanned aircraft must be identifiable at all times (location, altitude);
- Those who are can’t or won’t participate in the remote ID regulations will be relegated to flying only at approved Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA). These locations can only be reviewed and approved by the FAA;
- The proposed rules would be phased in over a period of 3 years.
FAA-2019-1100 Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems
SUMMARY: This action would require the remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems. The remote identification of unmanned aircraft systems in the airspace of the United States would address safety, national security, and law enforcement concerns regarding the further integration of these aircraft into the airspace of the United States while also enabling greater operational capabilities.
Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Publication Date: 12/31/2019
Page: 72438-72524 (87 pages)
Re: Comments regarding proposed rules for Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.
Regulation of our industry is inevitable. If not through Docket FAA-2019-1100 it will be through another means.The question is not how we can stop it but how we can help shape and influence what is to come.
😶 My High Level Thoughts
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) doesn’t make regulations they don’t intend to keep. Meaning whether we like it or not, Remote Identification will happen in some form and the hobby industry will need to come to terms that government regulations are happening. I don’t feel that this means the end of an era for our hobby industry. Could we see some significant decline during the first few years of the new regulations? Perhaps. But I think that is more contingent on how the community responds – not by regulations getting put into place. The advancements in unmanned flight technologies have catapulted our abilities to go far beyond where we were 10 years ago. So it stands to reason that how we can operate and where would also change.
So, where am I focusing my efforts for this recent proposed ruling? In places where the FAA is paying the most attention; where they are specifically seeking comments in the proposed regulation. This doesn’t mean that I’m not going to comment on the ruling as whole, rather I’m going to focus my efforts where I feel they could shape the outcome of the regulation. Regulation of our industry is inevitable. If not through Docket FAA-2019-1100 it will be through another means. The question is not how we can stop it but how we can help shape and influence what is to come.
🧐 Standard vs. Limited Remote Identification UAS
Standard Remote ID and Limited Remote ID are essentially the “meat” of the proposed regulations. I completely agree with what Remote ID ismeant to do – provide safe operations of unmanned aircraft in the nations air space. I also agree with the proposed approach to how this system is to operate by using the internet versus some proprietary technology. Especially for the hobby community, the development of a proprietary technology is not necessary.
🤔 Flying in an FAA-Recognized Identification Area (FRIA)
I appreciate the approach to designating an area to enjoy non-remote ID model aviation while the rules go into effect; for a time. What I’m concerned with is the unknown processes by which the FAA will either approve or deny an existing flying location to be designated an FRIA. They have admitted they are going to release another proposed approach before the rules go into effect however, initially what I’m sensing is the risks are high that several locations where modeling has gone on for years (if not decades) may not be approved. This risks significantly damaging the hobby industry by shunning flying fields with a historical record of safe operations – thus forcing the members to comply to the regulations in a very short period of time.
The FAA is currently working on Advisory Circular (AC) 91-57C, Unmanned Aircraft Systems – Recreational Operating Standards, which, among other things, provides the process by which the FAA will recognize an organization as a Community Based Organization (CBO).
Model aviation, specifically drones, have spurred STEM interest tremendously over the past 10 years and supports hundreds of millions of dollars in business revenues. There needs to bee more relaxed rules for the approval of FRIAs designations so they become a location where pilots want to fly vs. going rogue and creating greater risk. The process by which the FAA will approve a FRIA needs to take this into consideration.
😧 Remote ID Subscription
This concerns me primarily because the FAA has clearly stated the technology does not exist and that they are looking for the public to define its operations.While they have estimated costs, these are ball-park estimates at best. So not only is the FAA implying adding cost for a remote ID device housed on your aircraft, the hobbyist will now be responsible for additional fees to transmit the data any time you are flying. This is akin to the User Fees that AOPA has been fighting with the FAA over for years. If left completely to the private industry the hobbyist will have little to no say in costs or technologies required. While this may be good for business and provide healthy competition, this is not being proposed as an optional service, and therefore some oversight must remain with the governments preview (in my opinion, at this point).
Historically, user fees have severely impacted general aviation, often curtailing growth in operations. Moreover, a user fee system would limit congressional oversight, effectively removing Congress from its role as the FAA’s board of governors. For over a decade, AOPA has maintained that a user fee system for any segment of the aviation community will be harmful to the entire community.
🧐 XV. [Phasing out of] FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA)
Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2019-28100/p-678
…the FAA, as I understand it, is not shutting down flying field locations rather they are giving flying locations and CBO a finite window of time to come up to speed with the new regulations.
Initially it was my understanding that existing flying fields or community based organizations (CBO), like those chartered under the Academy of Model Aeronautics would be converted or turned into FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA). This is simply not true. Because of the time and effort required to meet the regulations it’s simply not realistic to expect that hundreds of thousands of people and aircraft can successfully complete the transition to Remote ID over a period of 3 years. What this rule is implying is that the FAA will designate or “grandfather” in existing CBOs to allow for the, “enable[ment] operations of UAS without remote identification within those areas.” Keep in mind that there is a review and approval process for each location submitted and the FAA can deny that location to be designated as a FIRA. Also, “At the end of that 12-month period, no new applications for FAA-recognized identification areas would be accepted a 12 month submission.” So there is a limited window to get a flying location recognized.
After that date, the number of FAA-recognized identification areas could therefore only remain the same or decrease. Over time, the FAA anticipates that most UAS without remote identification will reach the end of their useful lives or be phased out. As these numbers dwindle, and as compliance with remote identification requirements becomes cheaper and easier, the number of UAS that need to operate only at FAA-recognized identification areas would likely drop significantly. ~XV. FAA-Recognized Identification Areas
It’s important to note (as I understand it) that the FAA is not shutting down flying field locations rather they are giving flying locations and CBO a finite window of time to come up to speed with the new regulations. I feel properly documented and recognized flying locations will continue to exist and expand as the industry grows. For decades hobbyist flying locations have shown safe operations, community friendly outreach, and are a place where people gather to share in and explore aviation in a multitude of ways. Many aviation hobbyists are also full scale pilots! Governed under a set of standard of safety codes and conduct our flying fields can manage pilots, thrive in numbers, and steward multitudes of current hobbyist and future generations into aviation as a career. Under proposed § 89.225, the term of an FAA-recognized identification area would be 48 calendar months after the date the FAA approves the request for establishment of an FAA- recognized identification area. ~XV. FAA-Recognized Identification Areas, Section D. Duration of an FAA-Recognized Identification Area