FAA “to take discretionary approach to drone makers who miss RID September 16 deadline”

According to a document (Enforcement Policy Regarding Production Requirements for Standard Remote Identification Unmanned Aircraft) due to be published on the US Federal Register on 12 September 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) “will exercise its discretion in determining how to handle any apparent noncompliance” of the Remote Identification (RID) of Unmanned Aircraft final rule (RIN 2120-AL31) published in the Federal Register at 86 FR 4390, which comes into effect on September 16, 2022.

Standard remote identification unmanned aircraft and remote identification broadcast modules must be designed and produced to meet the requirements of title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations part 89 (14 CFR part 89).  On August 11, 2022 the FAA published a notice of availability announcing the acceptance of a means of compliance consisting of both ASTM Standard F3586-22 ( “Standard Practice for Remote ID Means of Compliance to Federal Aviation”/ASTM Reference Number F3586-22) and the additions specified in that notice of availability, just a few weeks before the deadline for manufacturers to install RID transmission systems on their production models.

Given the shortness of the deadline, the FAA has suggested it will take a relatively “lenient” approach to manufacturers who have not been able to access and integrate ASTM-compliant RID transmission devices on new models within the deadline.

“The FAA recognizes that it accepted the ASTM F3586-22 means of compliance slightly more than a month before the September 16, 2022, compliance date,” says the Enforcement Policy document. “The FAA has already received some declarations of compliance from manufacturers who are likely to meet the September 16, 2022, compliance date. However, the FAA acknowledges that other manufacturers may not have sufficient time to adequately design, develop, and test unmanned aircraft and file a declaration of compliance with the FAA on or before September 16, 2022, because of the delayed acceptance of the means of compliance. Accordingly, the FAA will exercise its discretion in determining how to handle any apparent noncompliance, including exercising discretion to not take enforcement action, if appropriate, for any noncompliance that occurs on or before December 16, 2022. The exercise of enforcement discretion herein creates no individual right of action and establishes no precedent for future determinations.”

Many in the industry remain concerned about the uncertainties surrounding the law and what it means for manufacturers and operators, especially around areas of retrofitting.

According to Mary-Lou Smulders, Chief Marketing Officer at Dedrone: “Today marks an important milestone for airspace security, as drone manufacturers in the US are now required to comply with Remote ID (RID) standards, making it easier to identify drones and their pilots. While it’s a step in the right direction, RID alone will not ensure skies are safe from careless and malicious drones in the face of a rising drone economy and mounting geopolitical and terrorist threats. It will be another year still before pilots are prohibited from flying drones larger than 250 grams without RID, and over the next 12 months we should see clarification about how the FAA will enforce RID requirements for both pilots and manufacturers, especially as it applies to the amateur-built drones, that are most accessible and often seen in nefarious acts.”

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