The Federal Aviation Administration gave the drone industry a Christmas gift of sorts at the end of 2019, by releasing its proposal for Remote ID. Remote ID is a kind of electronic license plate system for drones, where drones would have to transmit their identifying information either over the internet or via broadcast.
The news unleashed a whirlwind of comments on the Internet. And the FAA doesn’t want to read the YouTube or Twitter comments (hey, as someone who posts things to the Internet for a living, I can’t blame them). But the FAA does want to hear your comments in some capacity.
Many of the backlash came from small businesses citing cost concerns, as well as people flying in rural areas who fear the ability to transmit their information, among other criticisms.
The FAA opened up a public comment system through the Federal Register, enabling anyone to leave their thoughts between now and Monday, March 2.
And the FAA has thus far received more than 10,000 comments. You can read all of them here, but we also had a look to sort through some of the most interesting ones.
Here are some fast facts (as of today’s publication date):
- 10,864 comments have been received so far
- 414 comments reference ‘DJI’
- 10 comments reference ‘Yuneec’
- 56 comments reference ‘China’
- 3 comments came from “Donald Trump” (the FAA requires you to submit your name, but there is no way to authenticate that the commenter is leaving their real name)
Here were some interesting tidbits from notable commenters and organizations:
Concerns over needing to fly with some sort of network connection, even in remote/rural areas where connections are limited:
From Thomas Atwood, Executive Director, The National Robotics Education Foundation and Director of AUVSI’s Florida Peninsula Chapter: The rule must consider hobbyists who fly in rural areas with little or no internet connectivity. As I read the proposed rule, I would be required to have an internet connection even if flying at an approved fixed flying site in a rural part of the country. Unfortunately, some rural areas don’t have adequate cell service, which means I could not be able to fly. Rural locations are frequently the safest places to fly because they are away from people, other aircraft and structures.
From James Ferguson of the Montrose Model Aircraft Association: Unfortunately, here in the west many areas don’t have adequate cell service, which means I could not be able to fly under the limited remote ID option. The FAA needs to provide a solution for these areas, such as the ability to comply from home or other WIFI-enabled locations.
Concerns that over-regulation would make it tougher for law enforcement and emergency responders to operate drones quickly given the otherwise lengthy approval process:
From Ryan Durbin, Washington State Patrol: It is essential that the law enforcement organization can operate without delay in launching and conducting the sUAS deployment without a lengthy approval process. Time delays in crime scene investigations risk the loss of fleeting evidence, which can jeopardize the integrity of the case and the ability to successfully prosecute criminal violations.
Concerns over cost burdens for hobbyists and small businesses:
From the Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Radio Control Club: We are deeply concerned that many elements of the proposal could impose significant costs and burdens on the recreational model aviation community, and modeling industry, by unnecessarily restricting existing, safe recreational model aircraft operations while providing little additional safety to the NAS (National Air Space) for this class of UAS and little if no deterrence of illegal or unsafe UAS operation.
From Shaun Stanton, Director of Operations at Flytcam Motion Pictures: As a small business service provider, it will be difficult to discern when to initiate a capital outlay for equipment. If you purchase before the final year and your equipment is unable to meet the future standard, now you must make a substantial repurchase. Either you will delay the purchase of equipment in fear of not being able to use it, or you take a risk. If you do the former, your risk is losing productivity as you will not have the proper tools to stay on the competitive edge. In this industry, a year’s loss of work is enough to destroy a shop. The latter, and now you are stuck with a capability you cannot legally use.
Concerns that the new rule would restrict flights outside ‘Recreational Flight Fields’ but that are in otherwise safe-to-fly areas, like AMA fields
From Emma Roberson, Age 12: Last summer my grandfather taught me to fly a model airplane. I’m 12 years old and the only girl that I know of in my school that flies model airplanes. Now I see that the FAA wants to change a lot of rules that may stop me from flying model airplanes. I think flying at a club airfield is right, but I’m told that if these places have to close because they are old, they can’t make a new one under the FAA new rules. That seems to be a bad rule. It means that there will not be any place for me, and others, to fly in the future. I want to become a good pilot and learn to fly in contests. You should make it possible for the contests to be held at a fixed airfield and at air shows.
You too can get in on the public comment action. Just go to Federal Register’s page on ‘Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ and click the ‘Submit a Formal Comment’ button, which should be on the top right side of the page. Keep in mind, that you’re leaving a public comment, so be mindful of what you say on the Internet.
You have until Monday, March 2 to leave your own Remote ID public comment. But first, read the entire text of the FAA’s drone remote ID proposal here.
What are your thoughts on the rule? Leave a comment here, but don’t forget to leave your official comment with the FAA, too!