On The Radar
It seems as if ages have passed since last New Year’s Eve, when the FAA issued its long-anticipated notice of proposed rulemaking document, spelling out how it intended to establish standards for remote identification (Remote ID) of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). This was a whole year after the FAA first issued a request for information in December 2018, calling on the industry to help the agency explore possible technological solutions for Remote ID. That move was based on recommendations that the UAS Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee had established back in June 2017. So the protracted process has already spanned almost the entire duration of the current U.S. administration and now seems in danger of timing out in the wake of November's presidential election.
The UAS Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC), chartered by the FAA in June 2017, submitted its report and recommendations to the agency on technologies available to identify and track drones in flight and other associated issues.
The UAS industry—as well as developers of passenger- and freight-carrying eVTOL aircraft intended to be operated autonomously—view the proposed rules as a critical building block for airspace safety. They also serve as a springboard for accelerating the expansion of commercial service for UAS and other autonomously operated aircraft, and so are viewed as critical to this ambitious industry’s core business model.
In late September, industry groups urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao not to delay the release of the Remote ID rules promised for December. Evidently, the Beltway rumor mill is awash with speculation that progress on this front could be stalled.
Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), has been one of the most vocal advocates for Remote ID. In an open letter published this week, as the group holds its annual Xponential conference, he made a powerful technical and business case for the innovation and job creation he feels this legislation could unlock.
In fact, just after Wynne's comments were posted online at the AUVSI website, it emerged that on October 5, the Department of Transportation sent the draft Remote ID rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget for final review. This should mark the final step before the rule is issued, but it is unclear how much longer that process may take to complete.