FRIA drone map

How to find a FRIA zone (so you can fly drones without Remote ID)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this week rolled out a simple but powerful product that should make it a lot easier to figure out where you can fly your drone without Remote ID.

In July 2024, the FAA released a new map that makes finding FAA-Recognized Identification Areas easier. Powered by ArcGIS, the map allows you to insert an address. From there, the map zooms into your region. If there’s a FRIA nearby, it’s marked with a red flag on the map.

A view of San Francisco though the FAA’s FRIA map.

Click that red flag to reveal more detail about the specific terms of the FRIA. The popup reveals its exact address, affiliated CBO or educational institution and the FRIA’s expiration date.

A view of the FRIA map when you select San Francisco’s lone FRIA. That’s the SF Drone School, located on Treasure Island.

Check out the FAA’s official FRIA map for yourself.

Note that the FRIA map can change. Something that was a FRIA might not be anymore. (Typically the expiration date is displayed on the map, so you can plan in advance.) Meanwhile, FRIAs seem to be added at a relatively strong clip. So don’t fret if there’s not a FRIA near you today, as there could be one down the road. And hey, you might be in a position to apply to create your own local FRIA.

Why is the FAA’s FRIA map so important?

FRIA zones are designated areas recognized by the FAA. In them, drone operators can fly without having a Remote ID module or built-in Remote ID capabilities.

Under  the FAA’s Remote ID rules for drones, operations of any drone that weighs .55 to 55 pounds are required to be Remote ID compliant. That generally means drones are equipped with a built-in or secondary module that broadcasts certain identifying information about its flight path and operator. The rule went into effect in September 2022 — but wasn’t officially enforced until March 16, 2024.

But Remote ID has proven to be burdensome for certain recreational pilots in particular. That includes pilots flying homemade racing drones that need to be as light as possible. It might just encompass pilots who just don’t want to share their data. FRIAs give those people a place to continue their hobby.

And then there’s another (perhaps unintended) reason why this FRIA map is so delightful. It’s a good indicator of not just safe places to fly, but places where you’re very likely to find fellow drone enthusiasts. For example, my nearest FRIA — located at the SF Drone School and affiliated with the Academy of Model Aeronautics — often brings so many friendly, knowledgeable and generous drone pilots together. Just check out my day flying with them on Drone Safety Day 2024 as proof:

Remote ID in a nutshell

As of March 16, 2024, all drone pilots who are required to register their UAS must also operate their aircraft following the final rule on remote ID. The final rule for remote ID, which is an FAA directive, requires that drones provide identification and location information. That information then needs to be accessible by other parties (like other drone pilots).

Consider it a sort of electronic license place system for drones.

Graphic courtesy of the FAA

There are three (well, four, depending on how you slice it) ways to be Remote ID compliant as a drone pilot. They are:

  • Fly a drone with built-in Remote ID capability: Most new drones sold in the U.S. from major manufacturers like DJI. If your drone has built-in Remote ID capability, your job is easy. The drone automatically broadcasts its unique drone ID, location, altitude, velocity, control station location. That’s not all. It also broadcasts elevation, time mark, and emergency status throughout the period from takeoff to shutdown. Despite all that work, there’s really nothing to do on your end.
  • Fly a drone with a separate broadcast module: If your drone doesn’t have the built-in Remote ID capability, you must purchase a separate Remote ID module. You can usually affix these to your drone using a mounting solution like velcro. The best Remote ID modules cost less than $100 and are light so as to not impact flight times significantly. Companies like Zing Z-RID and Dronetag tend to dominate the space of making quality (and affordable) Remote ID modules.
  • Fly in a FRIA: Now that’s easier, since the map makes them easy to find and verify.
The Zing Remote ID module

Then there’s the fourth way to fly, and that’s to fly a drone that doesn’t needed to be registered. Drones flying for recreational purposes that weigh under 250 grams do not need to be registered. That includes popular camera drones like the DJI Mini 3 Pro and the Autel Evo Nano drone.

There are a few other situations where drones might not necessarily be Remote ID complaint. That includes drones operated for the military.

Certain rules still apply when flying in a FRIA zone

Just because you’re flying in a FRIA doesn’t mean you’re exempt from all the rules. You’re really only exempt from needing to broadcast Remote ID information.

Even in FRIA zones, all other FAA regulations still apply. This includes height restrictions, airspace rules, and guidelines for safe drone operation.

Some FRIA zones may have additional local regulations or requirements imposed by the landowner or manager. For example, a FRIA on a baseball field might be closed to drone pilots on days when the Little League games are going. Always check for any specific rules before flying.

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