On December 28, the FAA released two long-awaited rules covering Remote ID and revisions to Part 107 rules. These rules are an important step forward for the drone industry, and as an investor, or potential investor in Up Sonder, we want you to know more about this development.
The Big Picture
The new rules are part of the FAA’s ultimate goal to enable routine drone operations in the same airspace as manned aircraft. But, there is still work to be done before that is achievable. Think of it this way, the two new rules are ladders toward the goal, but more ladders are needed to reach it.
Remote ID Rule
The Remote ID rule requires drones to send out a signal that identifies the drone in flight and the location of its control station (the person who is flying the drone). See the graphic below for the ways a drone can identify itself, according to the FAA.
Identifying the location of a drone and its operator is crucial for the safe integration of drones into the national airspace. However, the final implementation is over two years away, given the work that drone manufacturers and pilots need to do to comply with the rule.
Revision to Part 107 Rules
The revision to Part 107 includes changes for rules covering drone operations at night and over people/moving vehicles. These changes will go into effect on 2/26/2021 and will have an immediate impact on the drone industry.
Previously, a drone pilot would have to go through a time-consuming waiver process to fly a drone at night or over people/moving vehicles. After the changes go into effect, a drone pilot will no longer need a waiver as long as certain conditions are met.
For flights at night, the drone pilot will have to pass an FAA test for night operations, and their drone will have to be equipped with anti-collision lighting visible for at least 3 statute miles. For flights over people/moving vehicles, drones are broken into 4 categories based on weight, each with its own conditions for flights over people/moving vehicles. Some of these conditions are complicated to understand. Up Sonder has a blog post that breaks it down if you want to find out more.
Impact on the Drone Industry
Come February 26th, drone flights at night and over people/moving vehicles will be more open, allowing companies like Up Sonder to fly these kinds of missions without going through an FAA waiver process. This will save time for both us and our clients and allow for expanded use cases.
For the drone industry as a whole, the importance is reducing restrictions on drone operations. More work is needed, but these changes prove the FAA is taking concrete steps towards fully integrating drones into the airspace.