ASTM, FAA, UAS industry pushing remote ID options

By Luke Geiver | February 26, 2020

The U.S Federal Aviation Administration’s newly released proposal for unmanned aircraft systems remote identification has drawn mixed reviews from major industry stakeholders. Most stakeholders are looking to recently released ASTM guidelines as the way forward.

The proposed rule by the FAA, which can be commented on by industry until March 2, would require the remote ID of UAS. According to the FAA, “While remote identification alone will not enable routine expanded operations such as operations over people or beyond visual line of sight, it is a critical element for building unmanned traffic management capabilities,” FAA said, adding that, “the FAA envisions that the remote identification network will form the foundation for the development of other technologies that can enable expanded operations.”

To make remote ID possible, FAA needs to first come to terms with a written rule (the process happening now); second, to establish a sector that will collect and monitor the identification and location of UAS (the FAA will call this sector the Remote ID UAS Service Suppliers); and third, to establish the technical requirements for performance-based standards for an ID system.

Currently, the FAA believes all UAS operators would have to comply, regardless of their role as a hobbyist or commercial pilot. The only exceptions would be for drones that weigh less than 0.55 pounds, amateur-built UAVs or UAVs operated by the U.S. government.

UAVs that operate over wide areas would fall in the standard ID set-up and be connected to the internet and/or broadcast information to a Remote ID service supplier. An other option, the limited remote ID set-up would only require an internet connection. The FAA believes the system could be in place and operating in three years.

ASTM has already released standards for a remote ID system this month, but it is yet to be determined what the FAA will take from the standards.

“We commend ASTM for releasing standards for remote identification, which provide a framework for identifying and tracking operators of UAS flying in the airspace—in real time,” said Brian Wynne, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. “The importance of remote ID standards cannot be overstated, as they are necessary to enable advanced and expanded operations such as flights over people and beyond line of sight, which will provide significant benefits throughout our economy and society. Remote ID standards also are critical for ensuring airspace safety by helping law enforcement identify and distinguish authorized UAS from those that may pose a security threat. 

“While these voluntary standards provide guidance to the industry for remote ID, we urge the FAA to move as quickly as possible with rulemaking. AUVSI and our members look forward to submitting comments to this much needed regulation that will help to ensure the safety of our national airspace for all aircraft – both manned and unmanned,” Wynne added. 

Companies like Wing, a drone delivery service, hope to see the ASTM standards implemented by the FAA.

“The ASTM standard demonstrates that Remote ID can be implemented swiftly in a safe, fair, and effective way that maximizes compliance. Wing encourages the FAA to adopt the same inclusive approach in the rule for Remote ID, and looks forward to providing detailed comments to the FAA in the near future,” the company said.