With the Remote ID enforcement date in the United States approaching (March 16th), it is a perfect time to revisit the Remote ID rule, bust a couple of common Remote ID myths, and ensure that security, law enforcement, and operators of airspace awareness technology have access to our updated Remote ID reference guide for security professionals, co-authored with P3 Tech Consulting‘s Dawn Zoldi.

For a quick recap, Remote ID refers to the capability of a drone in flight to transmit identification and location information via a broadcast signal, allowing other parties to receive and access this data through a broadcast signal. Remote ID establishes the essential groundwork for safety and security in advanced drone operations. It also assists regulatory agencies, law enforcement, and other federal agencies in identifying the control station or takeoff location when a drone is observed flying unsafely or in restricted areas.

Remote ID requires that the drone broadcast certain message elements from take-off to shutdown:

  • Drone ID (Remote ID-compliant serial number)
  • Drone location and altitude
  • Drone velocity
  • Control station location and elevation (Standard Remote ID)
  • Takeoff location and elevation (Broadcast Remote ID)
  • Time mark
  • Emergency status (Standard Remote ID)

Below are two of the most common myths we’ve encountered so far regarding the Remote ID rule. It is important for law enforcement and security professionals to understand the nuances of this important rule.

Remote ID Myth #1: All drones are required to broadcast Remote ID message elements

Answer: In the U.S., this is false! We’ve noticed many articles and posts that state that “all drones are required to broadcast Remote ID” or something similar. This is not true.

According to the FAA, “drones which are required to be registered or have been registered, including those flown for recreation, business, or public safety, must comply with the rule on Remote ID.” The FAA further clarifies which drones must be registered, “All drones must be registered, except those that weigh 0.55 pounds or less (less than 250 grams) and are flown under the Exception for Limited Recreational Operations.”

What does that mean? For example, regardless of weight, any drone flown for Part 107 operations must be registered and comply with the Remote ID rule. In contrast, a drone flown only for recreational purposes, weighing less than .55 lbs and not registered with the FAA, would not be required to comply with the Remote ID rule.

The FAA has also established FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA). A FRIA is a designated geographic region where drones are permitted to operate without the necessity of Remote ID equipment. It is mandatory for both the drone and the pilot to remain within the boundaries of the FRIA for the entire duration of the operation. The drone pilot must maintain continuous visual contact with the drone, ensuring it stays within the visual line of sight. If a drone is equipped with Standard Remote ID, it may not be disabled or shut off while flying in a FRIA (FAA).

A map of FRIAs can be found on the FAA’s UAS Data Delivery System or popular drone pilot smartphone applications.

Remote ID Myth#2: Drones that aren’t broadcasting Remote ID should be considered a threat or mitigated

Answer: Hold on! How do you know the drone isn’t broadcasting Remote ID message elements? To begin with, is the drone even required to broadcast Remote ID message elements? (see Myth #1 above)

Unless you specifically know that a drone isn’t broadcasting Remote ID message elements, it is more appropriate to say, “I’m not receiving Remote ID message elements from the drone.”

There are several reasons you may not be receiving Remote ID message elements from a drone, including:

  • The drone isn’t required to broadcast Remote ID message elements.
  • The drone is required to broadcast Remote ID message elements and is not compliant with the Remote ID rule.
  • The drone is required to broadcast Remote ID message elements, but a sensor is not receiving them due to RF interference, terrain, the sensor is out of range, etc.

Even if a sensor, such as a smartphone, receives data from a Remote ID-compliant drone, that does not mean the drone is otherwise compliant with other FAA rules and regulations. Receiving those same message elements does not mean that the drone pilot is not involved in careless, clueless, or nefarious activity.

Bottom Line- Receiving or not receiving Remote ID message elements from a drone is one data point of many that law enforcement, security personnel, or operators of airspace awareness technology should consider as part of their overall, continuous threat assessment.

Remote Identification: A Primer for Security Professionals

The link to the white paper below provides essential information for security professionals to familiarize themselves with Remote ID, encompassing the rule’s history, its requirements, the ongoing status of the RID rollout, and practical guidance for law enforcement and security personnel navigating a post-RID environment.

While this paper focuses on the RID rule in the United States, it’s crucial to note that similar RID rules have been or will be instituted in other countries. For instance, the RID rule in Europe took effect on January 1, 2024. The principles discussed here for security and law enforcement professionals remain consistent, irrespective of the country where the RID rule is implemented.

One final important message– Remote ID should not be used to harass drone pilots who are otherwise compliant with applicable laws and regulations.

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