Friday, February 26th, 2021

A Shopper Columns


In December 2020, the FAA published a new set of proposed drone rules. While there was a loosening of some regulations, several more restrictive rules were added. Although not due to be fully implemented until 2023, the new rules come into effect this year.

There is some loosening of rules, notably for commercial drone pilots' ability to fly over people and at night. Still, there are also more restrictive rules involving a new system called Remote ID—drone tracking measures to address security and safety issues raised by drones.
Remote ID is aimed at providing identification of drones in flight, as well as the location of the pilot. This is so that national security agencies and law enforcement can quickly locate any drone that is behaving illegally or suspiciously.

Remote ID will also immediately identify the owner's identity and location.
The Remote ID rule applies to operators of all drones that require FAA registration, which is any drone weighing more than 250 grams.

Because there is no 'grandfather clause' in the new rules, all current drone owners will be affected. They will either have to pay to upgrade their drones or sign up for a paid web-based tracking service.

People flying recreationally will have a choice of either adding remote ID to their drone, so they can continue flying wherever they currently can, or only being able to fly in special FAA Recognized Identification Areas.

The fact that drones will have to be trackable means that things will get easier for commercial pilots to operate in more restricted airspace and to fly over people or at night.  Previously, doing either of these involved lengthy applications for special waivers from the FAA.
The best thing about Remote ID is that it will make it easier to crack down on people who are flying illegally and dangerously.

Over the last few years, there have been many instances of people flying illegally near airports or hovering over emergency situations, like fires or traffic accidents, when there are law enforcement or medical helicopters around. These have often ended in dangerous situations happening. In a recent incident, a drone collided with an LAPD helicopter.

The new rules also require all drone operators to carry their FAA certificate and identification to present to authorities if needed. It also expands on which authorities may request these forms from a pilot.

Hopefully,  knowing that their actions are being monitored closely may now deter more impulsive drone owners from flying dangerously.

Terry Young is an FAA licensed drone pilot and professional photographer and videographer.  His 30 plus years of experience in pre- and post-production of both still photography and video, coupled with the latest equipment,  enable him to capture amazing, high quality images.