As was rumored at the Commercial UAV Expo last week, the Remote ID extension is finally official — as the Federal Aviation Administration formally announced on Wednesday that it would extend the Remote ID enforcement date.
The FAA dropped the news on Sept. 13, stating that drone pilots now have until March 16, 2024 to make their drones Remote ID compliant —— a six month extension from the initially-stated enforcement date.
September 16, 2023 was originally intended to be the final deadline for drone pilots to make their drones Remote ID compliant under the FAA’s final rule for remote ID, which mandates a way that drones must provide identification and location information. But that deadline was proving difficult to follow even for the most law-abiding of drone pilots, simply because remote ID modules had been largely out of stock.
“In making this decision, the FAA recognizes the unanticipated issues that some operators are experiencing finding some remote identification broadcast modules,” according to a statement from the FAA.
And that decision is perhaps a testament to grassroots efforts by drone pilots too push back. Among those includes Greg Reverdiau, a key stakeholder and the cofounder of Pilot Institute, who penned a widely disseminated open letter to the FAA asking them to delay Remote ID enforcement.
“Without widespread acceptance and compliance, Remote ID will fail and will be impossible to enforce,” he wrote in his open letter.
How do you become Remote ID compliant?
Given the FAA Remote ID extenstion, drone pilots who have otherwise been unable to comply with the broadcast requirement of the Remote ID Rule will now have until March 16, 2024, to equip their aircraft. After that date, operators could face fines and suspension or revocation of pilot certificates.
Remote ID is a sort of digital license plate system for drones — intended to help the FAA, law enforcement, and other federal agencies find the control station when a drone appears to be flying in an unsafe manner or is just otherwise flying in places where it is not allowed.
There are a few ways that drone operators can become compliant by the deadline, depending on the type of drones and where you’re flying. The four types of remote id-compliant drone flights are:
- Flying drones under 250 grams: If your drone is this small and you’re flying for recreational reasons, there’s no need to broadcast Remote ID signals or have a separate module.
- Flying drones with built-in Remote ID capability: Most new drones sold from major manufacturers now have Remote ID capability built-in via an internal module. You can check to see if your drone has Remote ID at that link, but generally speaking the ready-to-fly drones from major manufacturers like DJI are already good to go.
- Using a separate Remote ID module: The deadline extension is largely centered around folks who fly drones that would necessitate a separate Remote ID module, meaning drones larger than 249 grams that don’t already come sold with a built-in Remote ID module, such as older or home-built drones.
- Flying at a FRIA: FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA) are spots where drones without Remote ID broadcast capabilities can operate legally, and typically are located at parks owned by FAA-recognized community based organizations (like many model airplane fields) or educational institutions. Use the FAA’s UAS Data Delivery Service (UDDS) website to find a FRIA near you.
The Remote ID extension really applies to folks in that third category. For folks in that boat, drone pilots can meet this deadline by purchasing a standard Remote ID equipped drone from a manufacturer or purchasing a Remote ID broadcast module which can be affixed to existing drones that do not have Remote ID equipment.
At the moment, most Remote ID modules are out of stock. But, they’re expected to be available sometime in the next month.
For example, Adorama — which is a giant camera and electronics dealer — says the Dronetag Beacon (which is one of the best Remote ID modules you can buy for the price tag) is on backorder for now, but new units are expected to arrive by October 15. The Dronetag Mini, which is considered the best overall Remote ID module, is also on backorder but expected to be back available on that same October 15 date. Check out our guide to the best Remote ID modules for drone pilots.
If you do need a Remote ID module, it would still be wise to pre-order a Remote ID module now. Even though the Remote ID enforcement date has been extended by six months, there’s still extremely high demand for the modules.
Reverdiau estimates that 350,000 units are still needed. While he said that “delaying enforcement until at least March 2024 would help manufacturers catch up with demand…that’s still over 2,200 units per manufacturer per week over the next 26 weeks.”