The FAA’s release yesterday of the UAS Remote ID and Tracking recommendations has been big news in the industry – with stakeholders weighing in on all sides of the issue.
The full report provides a detailed analysis of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) discussion: and offers an appendix listing each member’s vote on the final document, providing them with the opportunity to make comments. This makes for interesting reading, and demonstrates the difficulty in getting stakeholders from different sides of the industry to agree on broad solutions. 34 of the committee members agreed with the report without exceptions. 20 agreed with exceptions. 8 did not agree with the report, 12 – mostly law enforcement or manned aircraft representatives – offered no comment.
Organizations have quickly made their reactions and responses public by issuing statements. Leading drone manufacturer DJI was among the first, coming out in support of their own Aeroscope system which uses a direct broadcast system (one of two identified options in the report.)
The Drone Manufacturers Alliance, of which DJI is a member, followed up with their own statement in support of broadcast technology – and a method that will utilize an integrated solution rather than require additional equipment. “The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) report demonstrates that local broadcast technology is a viable and efficient way to address safety and security concerns about drones,” says the statement. “With remote identification standards in place, the FAA can move forward on rulemaking to allow more expansive beneficial uses of drones, including by flying at night, over people and beyond the operator’s visual line of sight.”
“The Drone Manufacturers Alliance believes law enforcement, national security and aviation safety authorities need a simple and reliable way to monitor airborne drones. We appreciate how the ARC’s careful work has shown that direct broadcast technologies are the most efficient way to transmit, receive and analyze drone identification information,” said Kara Calvert, Director of the Drone Manufacturers Alliance. “We urge the FAA to use this report to implement technologies that will pose a minimal burden upon drone users and manufacturers, which will encourage compliance, and keep the skies safe for drones, traditional aviation and the general public.”
“The Drone Manufacturers Alliance encourages regulatory authorities to note the ARC report’s conclusion that several promising drone tracking and monitoring technologies can be implemented without adding additional equipment to drones,” the statement continues. “Integrated solutions using existing drone equipment will encourage the use of drones for beneficial purposes, whereas new equipment requirements would add cost and engineering complexity to drones as well as impose new burdens and costs upon the people who use them.”
The Commercial Drone Alliance, an advocacy group representing commercial drone end users and industry stakeholders, registered a dissenting vote to the report. After penning an op-ed to The Hill, co-director Lisa Ellman said in a statement to DRONELIFE that the Alliance was “strongly disappointed” in the report’s recommendation that recreational drones be excluded from the requirement.
Chad Budreau, Public Relations and Government Affairs Director at the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), advocating for many recreational users and another participant on the advisory panel, issued this statement:
“Today’s announcement is another step towards fostering safety in the national airspace. We agree that tracking and remote identification makes sense at some level, depending on the UAS sophistication and capability. We strongly believe that we must also continue educating all UAS pilots, which is what truly equips hobbyists and commercial operators to fly responsibly. We look forward to continuing our work with the FAA and UAS industry stakeholders to keep our skies safe for all.”
While the industry continues to work to digest the recommendations of the ARC – and waits to see what the proposed rule will look like – there remain only two certainties from the report. Remote ID and Tracking on some level is on the way. There will be no consensus on what that looks like.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.