17 Days Left to Comment on Remote ID for Drones: What the Comments Look Like So Far

 In GDI, Air, Environment

The FAA announced a long-await­ed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Remote ID for drones on 12/31/2019.  The com­ment period required by fed­er­al law is open until March 2, 2020 (if you wish to com­ment, you may review the NPRM and do so here.)  Over 13,000 com­ments have been sub­mit­ted so far – and from “over-reg­u­la­tion at its finest” to “unrea­son­able” and “deeply con­cerned,” the com­ments are over­whelm­ing­ly neg­a­tive.  While that may simply reflect the fact that those who com­ment wish to see a change, some clear themes emerge from the com­ments posted so far.

The Recreational Drone Community: “Deeply Concerned”

The vast major­i­ty of indi­vid­ual com­ments come from the recre­ation­al drone com­mu­ni­ty.  Many of these com­ments use the AMA’s sug­gest­ed tem­plate for com­ment: one which says “I am deeply con­cerned that some ele­ments of the pro­pos­al could impose sig­nif­i­cant costs on the model avi­a­tion com­mu­ni­ty and unnec­es­sar­i­ly restrict exist­ing, safe model air­craft oper­a­tions.”  Many, how­ev­er, tell sto­ries about involve­ment in a hobby that they see dis­ap­pear­ing overnight as a result of the rule.

The recre­ation­al com­mu­ni­ty, includ­ing the largest rep­re­sen­ta­tive com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tion, the AMA, has legit­i­mate con­cerns.  The vari­ety of air­craft involved in the hobby and the CBO-led activ­i­ties which have earned a stel­lar safety record over decades are not well-rep­re­sent­ed in the rule.  As just one exam­ple: while the rule would allow recre­ation­al air­craft to fly at des­ig­nat­ed flying fields, those fields would have to be des­ig­nat­ed quick­ly – result­ing in a per­ma­nent fixed list.  That doesn’t reflect the real­i­ty of chang­ing prop­er­ty uses, with some fields clos­ing or chang­ing loca­tion every year.

Professional Operators: “Increasing Costs”

Part 107 licensed com­mer­cial oper­a­tors have also expressed con­cern over the rule.  For farm­ers flying over their fields daily to mon­i­tor crops to drone ser­vice providers gath­er­ing aerial data for con­struc­tion sites, many Part 107 oper­a­tors don’t see a safety ben­e­fit to out­weigh the costs of com­pli­ance.

Most of these oper­a­tors com­ment that the remote nature of their work makes com­pli­ance both dif­fi­cult and unnecce­sary.  Flying in remote areas is inher­ent­ly less risky, say pilots.  While flying in remote areas, the lack of a reli­able com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work could require them to carry hard­ware: that, com­menters point out, could short­en flight endurance and add to their costs.

Hardware Manufacturers: “Deeply Flawed”

The largest hard­ware man­u­fac­tur­er in the world, DJI, has com­ment­ed that the rule is “deeply flawed.”  DJI has long cham­pi­oned the con­cept of remote ID and track­ing as a crit­i­cal step to inte­grat­ing drones into the air­space.  With over 60% (or more, by some esti­mates) of the com­mer­cial market, DJI will bear a large burden in making com­pli­ance easy for their cus­tomers.   You can read more of DJI’s com­ments here, but in sum­ma­ry, the com­pa­ny says that the FAA has made the issue harder – more expen­sive and more dif­fi­cult – than is nec­es­sary for safety.

DJI sup­ports Remote ID but is advo­cat­ing against the FAA’s Remote ID pro­pos­al to save drone inno­va­tors need­less expense and hassle, and because we believe a less com­plex and costly Remote ID approach will do a better job of ful­fill­ing the safety and secu­ri­ty needs the FAA has artic­u­lat­ed. We all want safe and secure skies. But few people who under­stand drone tech­nol­o­gy will sup­port this pro­pos­al, except those who stand to profit from it.

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.
For drone indus­try con­sult­ing or writ­ing, Email Miriam or (for paid con­sult­ing engage­ments only) request a meet­ing through AdvisoryCloud:

TWITTER:@spaldingbarker

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Source: DroneLife

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